Dear Christian caregiver, I am going to talk today about something we often do not like to discuss. In fact it is subject we like to avoid. It is a topic, however, that would be wise to discuss with your loved one for whom you are caring. It would be especially wise to discuss this topic with your loved one, if she or he is terminally ill. That topic is death.
My husband was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease called Multiple Systems Atrophy Type C in 2006. At the time of his diagnosis a time frame of 6-10 years until death was thrown out. Any internet site I visited suggested the same time frame. In actuality my husband only lived four and a half years after diagnosis.
A few times during his illness my husband would say that he did not think he had long to live. I at the time thought that those statements of my husband were merely depression speaking. This was logical in my mind, because depression can accompany neurological disease. I felt as if I did not want to feed into that depression. I would often say, “You don’t know that. You could outlive me.”
Now I believe that was a wrong approach. I believe I should have openly discussed with my husband about his feelings about death. It most likely would have been helpful to him on an emotional level to have talked about this with me. It also could have been the source of some deep spiritual discussions, as my husband was a believer and child of God. It further would have helped me to better know his wishes for the funeral and other matters.
I think my husband may have been more in tune with reality at that time than I. Perhaps I was in denial about how close to death he must be, because of his constant declines.
Dear Christian Caregiver, death is never a pleasant subject to discuss, but its reality is not going to go away by not discussing it. Consider discussing these matters with your loved one especially if they bring up the subject. Their eventual death is not going to be hastened by your discussion of it. The date of that death is in God’s hands.
Unless dementia prevents it I would strongly suggest discussing his or her eventual death honestly and openly with your loved one for whom you are caring. Remind your loved one that the process of dieing is not something anyone would chose, but we will all experience it unless Jesus returns first. Also remind him or her, however, that death for the Christian is merely a gateway to heaven and being with the Lord.