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Helping the Terminally Ill

Learning that one has a terminal illness is about the most shocking experience a person can have. Former Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey said, “The worst and most shattering day of my life was the day I learned I had cancer.”

Life was never intended to be lived as a solo but as a chorus. We must therefore stand ready to help one another through these difficult experiences of life.

What can you do to help a terminally ill friend?

1. Allow your friend to talk about his death. Don’t be guilty of the conspiracy of silence by refusing to talk seriously about death. The terminally ill patient can and will talk about his own death if we will only allow him to do so.

2. Keep showing your love. The terminally ill often experience great loneliness. They need people and acceptance, not just television. Express your love in words, by visits, by notes, by flowers, and by gifts. Never let them feel that they are alone.

3. Help them to hold on to hope. Tell them, “I’m not going to give up hope and don’t you either. We are going to fight this thing out together. Keep looking to tomorrow. Tomorrow will be a better day.” Remind them that they are not a statistic. Some people are cured of their disease and they must not give up hope.

4. Help them have confidence in their doctor. A dying person needs to be able to have a feeling of complete faith and confidence in his physician and the hospital staff who cares for him.

5. Give him assurance about his family. Many dying persons are far more concerned for the needs of their survivors than they are with their own death. Assure them that those who depend upon them will be taken care of after they are gone. 

6. Help them to know the Savior. One of the greatest needs of the terminally ill is a deep religious faith to sustain them. If they do not have a personal commitment to Jesus Christ, they may turn to him in this time of crisis.

7. Help them to concentrate on living instead of dying. They should consider each day as another day of life, a gift from God to be enjoyed as fully as possible. Help him to learn to live with his illness instead of considering himself dying from it. We are all dying in some manner.

Dying is never easy. So we must stand ready to help one another through this difficult time. Remember the woman who anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume and how Jesus appreciated her concern for him before he died? You can do the same thing for your dying friend. And when you do, it will have the same significance as her gesture did.

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Paul W. Powell - www.PaulPowellLibrary.com

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