How To Cope With A Terminal Illness At Christmas

Is this the last Christmas you’ll likely celebrate? Here are our top tips on making this Christmas a wonderful one – no matter your circumstances.
How To Cope With A Terminal Illness At Christmas

Christmas is all about family and festivities, but if you know this one might be your last, it can be tough to feel merry and joyous. While the anticipation of death might hang like a shadow over every event, there are ways to ensure you’ll enjoy those last few days, weeks or months with your loved ones.

Here are our top tips (and yep, this guide might be one worth saving):

Do What’s Comfortable

We’ve said this before, but we’ll say it again: Do whatever feels right for you.

If your friends or family have long standing traditions you don’t feel comfortable participating in this year, let them know. Maybe a long Christmas lunch won’t be your schtick this year, or maybe Christmas Eve carols can be a takeaway dinner at home instead (while you binge-watch Christmas movies). There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate, and no rule book on how to be festive.

Divide and Conquer

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do all the things you normally would around this time of year.

You may not be able to write cards or hang out with every family member and friend, and you might have to decline a bunch of invites if you simply don’t feel up to attending parties or meals. If you can, try and commit to smaller activities that won’t take too much of a toll, and give your loved ones the heads up that this holiday season might be a little different for you.

Ask For Help

We’re all pretty average at asking for help – it can feel awkward or uncomfortable, and we also like to maintain our independence, especially as we age. However, this Christmas might be a little more challenging than usual, so make sure you reach out to your loved ones for help when you need it. Chances are, your friends and family will jump at the opportunity to help you out.

Focus On Joy

Don’t lose sight of what makes this time of year so special.

Play your favourite Christmas music (Mariah Carey is a must), watch your favourite Christmas movie (we recommend Love, Actually), and hang your favourite ornaments around the house and on your Christmas tree. Take time out to rest when you need to, and remind yourself that Christmas is about love, happiness and spending time with the people most important to you. Every second counts.

What Can Loved Ones Do?

If one of your loved ones is suffering from a terminal illness – or you know that they’ll likely pass away soon – you might be looking for ways to support them during the holidays. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do:

  • Help them with buying gifts, and wrapping and handing them out.
  • Offer to help with decorating or putting up a tree.
  • Think of alternatives to traditions that they may not be able to take part in.
  • Offer to cook Christmas dinner, or take dinner to them.
  • Ask your loved one how they would like to celebrate, and honour their wishes.
  • Help them get their affairs in order before they pass. You can start by helping them write their Will.
  • Gift them something meaningful, like a photo book or a day out to their favourite place.

Wrap up

It often feels like this time of year creeps up on us, and then before we know it? It’s over. Our biggest tip of all is to cherish every moment you have with your friends and family. Take lots of photos and videos, write meaningful cards you know they’ll read over for years to come, speak openly about your love for the people around you, and, most importantly, look after yourself.

Whether you or a loved one are experiencing a terminal illness, it’s always a good time to start writing your Will. You can start online in just 15 minutes with Willed.

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