Staying strong while caring for a dying parent can be difficult, to say the least. Our entire lives, we are moulded into the people that we will become because of our parents’ tender love and affection. If it were not for them, we would not be who we are, nor would we have ever been brought into existence. For this reason, it is imperative to their happiness in the final moments of their lives that you stay beside them, care for them, and provide them with companionship.
As we grow older, it can be easy to neglect our parents and, in a sense, forget that they exist. It is important that we always remember them and are always there for them, as they have always been for us.
Here are some ways that can help you to stay strong while caring for a dying parent.
Looking after your parent by yourself can be very strenuous, especially when you factor in that you will be responsible for taking them to the toilet, preparing their meals, and waiting on them hand and foot. It is best, in this situation (if you are not a licensed carer), that you hire palliative services to ease the stress. Home carers can be very flexible and can be either live-in or visiting, depending entirely on your commitments.
If you have the time to do some of the caring for your parent, this may be better, as it will mean the carer can simply visit your home, thereby giving you private time and reflection time with your loved one, and the adequate time to say goodbye.
Live-in care also has its benefits, depending on your schedule and relationship with your parent. It is entirely subjective to your personal circumstances and should be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
Death is not something easily confronted. Your parent may have come to terms with their imminent death, but it will not relinquish their fears.
Fear of death is entirely natural and something that you should comfort them about. They have nothing to fear, and if they are religious, you should encourage them to make peace with their god.
Speaking to your dying parent will give you comfort and give them comfort, and not only that, will strengthen the bond between you in your final weeks together.
Think about them
Staying strong while caring for a dying parent can be very difficult, especially when we consume ourselves with our own fears and insecurities. During your parent’s final moments, you should think entirely about them and neglect your own personal worries.
By consuming yourself with your own fears, you will not be able to properly address theirs. Thinking about them, and entirely about them may be difficult at first, but once you get into the routine, you will quickly forsake your own worries and focus entirely on them and how they feel in their final moments.
Reassuring your parent that their life mattered and that they did everything they could for you is a great way to stay strong and a great way to comfort them in their final moments. It will likely haunt you if you do not, and you will fear they died not knowing how grateful you were to them for everything that they surely did for you. Reassuring them will not only strengthen you but strengthen them, too. Reassure them every day how much you love them and how grateful you are for everything they ever did for you, from nursing you to teaching you about the world.
Clear the air
It is very common for people not to voice problems they may have experienced with their parents in their final weeks, and therefore, are never given closure. If you have bad air with your parent, clear it. Explain to them what you feel that they did wrong, and whoever was responsible, that it must be put in the past and that you forgive them or you ask them to forgive you. By doing this, you will be doing yourself a huge favour in years to come. It is very common for people to suffer greatly in their parent’s absence because of never having cleared the air.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
When you are caring for a dying parent, you will likely be so emotionally tormented that you will be unable to eat or drink. Be sure to eat a healthy diet and get as much sleep as you can so you can be there for them and are in good health.
Now you know several ways to care for a dying parent. You must be gentle with a dying parent and remember that they are unable to care for themselves and need you more than ever.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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