Living with cancer blog

Life and death — Ideas to help you find peace

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. June 17, 2011

A while back, we had a discussion about grief and dealing with a terminal diagnosis. Many of you shared your perspectives on having a terminal diagnosis, the grieving process or the death of someone you love. It seems like another discussion on preparing for death might also be important.

Unfortunately, the word "cancer" can bring unwanted fear and anger — emotions that either you or those around you might experience. We all know that we will die some day. It's just that the exact circumstances (when, where and how) are unknown. However, rather than deal with this idea with fear, why not treat this as a time to think about living and dying with the idea of compassion and kindness for yourself and your family.

It's true that most people don't want to discuss dying, but if you're interested in finding some peace for yourself, you might consider a couple of these ideas:

  • Reflect on the positive aspects of your life; find strength in your deepest values.
  • Keep in mind what is most important to you (in life and after you are gone).
  • Write or tell stories of your fondest memories for your friends and family to reflect on now and later.
  • Inquire early about hospice care. Getting hospice involved earlier rather than later can make such a difference. Hospice care has a holistic approach and can assist you and your family with the entire process of approaching your last days and months in a positive manner.
  • Talk about, or write down what you want to happen after you are gone — this might include funeral planning, memorial ideas and any special requests related to the giving of meaningful personal items to others.

My wish for this discussion is to give you the freedom to reflect on the idea and talk with others about what you need.


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

Jun. 17, 2011