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Thread: Dealing with terminal illness in family

  1. #1

    Default Dealing with terminal illness in family

    July has been a real bad and stressful month for me. I know that I had gotten over a depressive episode early on this year, and for many months, everything was fine. But thanks to July being a super stressful month, many of those feelings while depressed began to creep back in.

    I begin to fear relapsing and try and quell all of these feelings and demons as much as possible. Then you get news that a family member is terminally ill, which is essentially a big donkey kick to the face on top of all of that.

    I know it shouldn't be too shocking because of old age, but when the family member has had excellent health and took real good care of herself, you just don't think about it and don't have much warning other than the 48 hours they have left.

    Feeling worse than ever, and this is a big push in the wrong direction. I'm not sure what to do. At this point, I'm just hoping to ride this out and that this just turns out to be melancholy and that I'm not heading back to that dark place I was in over the winter.

  2. #2



    Sorry to hear about the real life crisis that are challenging you depression.

    I can totally relate.

    Simple questions to ask yourself and or think about.

    1) Do you have a professional you can work with?

    2) Do you have an action plan for coping with these hard challenges at this time?

    3) DO you have an immediate support network that you are/can access?

    So with that in mind, Keep us informed and ask if there is anything we can do to give help and encouragement.

    I wish you hope and the best to help you through these difficult times.


  3. #3


    I too have dealt with terminal cancer in the family. It's not pretty and it's weird in a way. You try not to treat them as if they are dying. At the same time you try to protect them in some kind of way. It does get bad because you witness their changes. Then all the drugs they get put on pretty much changes the person. All of the pain medications and what not just makes them different. The process took about a year, for my uncle to pass, even worse was that we couldn't afford to give him a proper funeral or memorial. Even the military wouldn't help with it. Just another number to them that they no longer have to care for.

    Towards the end you can really start seeing the signs. Dramatic weight loss, yellowing of eyes and skin. They become incoherent, and begin to do strange things.

    The hopeless/hopeful feeling involved can be brutal.

    I wish the best for you and your family.

  4. #4


    Hi, gsmax,
    I'm so sorry to hear how things have been going for you. It sounds like it's been a long, tough year. Depression is hard to deal with at any time, let alone when you have another family member suffering from a terminal illness. I hope you're getting good support, and please feel free to post here as often as required, and you can send me a private message anytime you want.

    It's interesting you mentioned that it shouldn't come as a surprise when an older person is suddenly diagnosed with a serious illness. It made me think of my mother who is now close to ninety years old. She's in perfect health, still owns and cares for her own home, loves going out for long drives, the theatre, reading, debating politics, and entertaining guests. She's in better health than most people who are one third of her age. Still, as she gets older, I know she won't be here forever. That's all part of the cycle of life and I am keenly aware of it. These days, I tend to call her more often and make more of an effort to visit her, especially during holidays.

    As people become ill, or just grow older, I think the best we can do is spend our remaining time with them by living in the moment, appreciating each day they are here with us, and making each day the best day possible. It's also important to remember that people with terminal illnesses still love and care for us and would want us to live healthy, happy lives. They would want to do anything to help us do that. I've found that living through another person's long term illness can be a chance to bond and experience a lifetime of unimaginable closeness in the remaining years. My hope is that you and your family member can both be open and supportive of each other, and pull each other through on the tough days ahead.

    I'd also ask you to keep in mind that even though depression may not be diagnosed as a terminal illness, it is an illness nonetheless. It sounds like you've been through a few rough rounds already, and it may be a good idea to check in with your doctor as soon as possible to discuss the symptoms and the possibility of a relapse. I'm submitting a link to the helplines in California. You don't have to be suicidal to call a helpline, just at risk of depression. Most helplines not only listen without judgement, but they also have an extensive knowledge of community resources available to help you through this. My advice would be not to 'ride it out' and to get help as soon as possible. Depression is a spiral and the longer and farther you fall into it, the harder it is to find your way out of it.

    Take care, my friend. My thoughts are with you.
    Last edited by Starrunner; 20-Jul-2016 at 03:05.

  5. #5


    Sometimes hard times come in multiples, and we wonder what force moves behinds the events, pushing all of them at us at once. I called this in my novel, "being pushed". This past week, a series of weird things happened to my wife and I. My wife and I were sitting in our kitchen and we heard a crash. For no reason, a large branch fell out of one of our trees and hit our 2 year old Honda Pilot, putting several dents in it.

    I had some brush by the road to get picked up. The city brush truck came to get it, but it was driving the wrong way on the wrong side of the street. Instead of picking up the brush, it dropped a load of red clay all along the road in front of my house. Now I track it into my new driveway every time I come and go. I'm pissed.

    But yesterday I did the dressing change on my wife's dialysis catheter, only to find the catheter was coming out. Today we spent the whole day in the hospital as they replaced it. It is a very painful procedure and one can never know if she can take one more replacement. If they can no longer make this work, she will die. So now we hold our breath each time I hook her up to her dialysis machine. All of these events happened in the last 3 or 4 days.

    We are all being pushed by some invisible force, whether it's physically real or just the role of the dice, we get buffeted around and sometimes there's little we can do but to hold on to something or someone.

    I'm sorry this is happening to you. I'm also sorry the world can be such a cruel place. What we must do is find the joy that is also in the world, that, and take one day at a time. Try to enjoy the good days, and find your center during the bad days. You aren't alone and in a way, we all hold hands to give each other support. If we don't, we lose ourselves in the turmoil.

  6. #6


    Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it.

    Nothing has changed so far, it's pretty much the exact same.
    I know I was seeing someone for depression, though I haven't seen them in 5 months since until a couple weeks ago, I just assumed that this was all over and something I had defeated the problem.

    It definitely sounds like making an appointment would be the best thing to combat this. I'll have to force myself to call sometime soon.

    Again, thanks for your concern.

  7. #7


    Well, it's pretty much all over since they passed away tonight. I know it's not too surprising now, but if you told me a week ago that they'd be dead in a week, I'd have said "You're crazy. There's nothing wrong with them". I know we were very close and got along super well. I know they did a lot for me and I only wish I could've done more for them in return when I could've.

    I know I had been worrying about depressive feelings slowly creeping back in before all this, and this just is a big spiked kick in the balls on top of all that. Really unsure of what to do now or where to go from here, and can only hope that this pain only lasts for so long and doesn't grow and get worse.

  8. #8


    Hi, gsmax,

    I am so very, very sorry to hear of your loss. My inbox is always open to you if you want to vent or talk privately.

    It's always difficult for me to find words to say in such difficult times. I wish there was something I could say to ease the pain, but I know I can't. Unfortunately, it's all part of the grieving process. I can tell you that the way you feel right now doesn't last forever, that your life will go on and that your fond, loving memories of her will outlast the pain you are feeling right now.

    It's obvious she made a significant, lasting impact on your life and you are who you are because of her. It's always hard to lose close relationships, especially in this manner, but just think of her legacy and everything she left behind. The best of her will live on through you and the others she touched in her time on earth. To paraphrase an old saying, it's better to have loved and been loved by this person than never to have known her.

    If there was any small blessing in this, at least her suffering wasn't a prolonged and painful departure. The worst illnesses occur when someone is terminally ill and we are helpless to ease their suffering, watching as they ripped away from us for months or years at a time. At least she didn't suffer endlessly.

    As for what to do? I wish I had an answer to help ease your pain, but there are no simple words that can minimize what you're feeling. So my advice is to allow yourself to feel the pain and not deny how you feel right now. It is a natural, normal part of the grieving process. I would strongly suggest that you spend as much time as possible with family and friends so that you can support each other and share your grief together. Don't withdraw or shut yourself away. Stay with the people who were close to her so that you can vent, share stories about her, remember her and support each other. You are not in this alone.

    The pain you are feeling right now won't last forever. In time, it will be replaced by the, beautiful, pleasant memories of the time you had with her and you will feel the privilege for having been a part of her life as she was a part of yours. It does get easier, I can promise you that.

    The other bit of advice has already been given. You'll likely be busy in the days to come dealing with all the details and arrangements of losing a family member. Do what you need to do, but one thing I think you need to remember is to take care of yourself. Dealing with a loss in the family is always so draining, but when you're suffering from depression it just makes it harder to cope with it all. For everything that's been happening, please, do get in touch with your doctor or a counsellor as soon as possible. Depression can be a natural response to a situation such as a loss in the family, or it can be a more insidious form of depression which can seep its way into the middle of a crisis and work its way into your life long after the crisis has passed. You need to separate the two, and you need help to do it.

    Take care, my friend. We're thinking of you. Let us know how you're doing.
    Last edited by Starrunner; 22-Jul-2016 at 22:41.

  9. #9


    I too am sorry for your loss. Sometimes the things that can happen to us are shocking. My dad passed away very suddenly from a brain aneurysm, many years ago. One minute he was standing and talking and the next, he was gone.

    When the terrible things happen, all you can do is take one day at a time, otherwise it can be overwhelming. Sometimes we use a death as a time for introspection, and a time to think of our loved one, but also a time to examine our own lives.

    Hang in there and don't put too much on yourself. Time has a way of healing these kinds of wounds. And take care of yourself. You have friends here who care about you, and I'm sure you have family members who love you. Find your strength through them and don't isolate yourself from others. Hugs.

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