Helping Caregivers

Those who care for loved ones with a terminal illness, such as cancer, also need support. They are grieving in the midst of their caregiving. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides solid, helpful suggestions:

  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Offer specific suggestions for how you can help
  • Ask how the illness is affecting them
  • Avoid saying “I know what you’re going through,” even if you have been a caregiver; each circumstance is unique; it’s more helpful to say “I’m so sorry” about their situation
  • Listen and look for ways to provide help and support

When the loved one dies and caregiving ends, it’s natural for the caregiver to feel both relief and grief. They may also feel guilty about feeling relieved. You can remind them that providing care is exhausting and that it’s normal to be relieved once it’s complete. Caregivers often fail to get enough sleep or the right things to eat, too. As the caregiver goes through the grief process, a reminder to rest and the offer of a home-cooked meal may be welcome.

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