Whether you or a loved one are facing a terminal illness, therapy can be an excellent venue to receive support and learn to best cope and make meaning during an extremely difficult process. Death often coincides with the resurgence of many pushed-aside emotions. Family members may begin to experience guilt or remorse about the relationship that they had with the person who is dying. Anger, resentment, fear, or any other feeling may come to the surface as a person and their family begin to recognize the limited time left. For some, receiving a diagnosis means there is now a need to shift one’s perspective from being future-oriented to focusing on the present or revisiting the past. In therapy, a person can expect a guiding hand regarding how to navigate intense feelings at a time when someone’s health is failing.
The decline of a family member can cause ripple effects throughout a family. Caregivers can find themselves overwhelmed and lacking support for themselves. Even with advanced directives and other plans, the wishes to continue or cease medical care can cause discord between loved ones who want to take different treatment approaches for the dying individual. And because a person’s decline will often draw out absentee family members, old conflicts may resurface now that people are coming together again. For all of these various and complicated reasons, therapy can be a good option for those looking to better navigate this process and find ways to nourish themselves and make peace, both with themselves and others.