HomeHealth Blog

Tips for Supporting a Friend with a Life-Limiting Illness

Learning that a loved one has a life-limiting illness can feel like the world has come to an abrupt stop. You may feel helpless and unsure how to appr

Learning that a loved one has a life-limiting illness can feel like the world has come to an abrupt stop. You may feel helpless and unsure how to approach the situation. You want to do anything you can to support your friend, but you also don’t want to step over boundaries or say anything inappropriate that may unintentionally hurt their feelings. 

Read on to discover how you can show your friend support with compassion and sincerity.

Don’t Take Anything Personal

While your intentions to support your friend are coming from the right place, they may not always want or accept your help. They might be craving solitude and need some alone time.Giving them the space they need right now is crucial. Accepting an illness and grieving the loss of a different way of life is critical for people with life-limiting illnesses, and being alone is part of such a process. 

If they say no or are short with you in conversation, don’t take it personally. Your friend is also coming to terms with this new challenge and learning how to practice extreme self-care. You’ll learn to check in with them regularly while respecting their wishes.

Ask Them What They Need

Your loved one is processing a considerable — and life-changing — amount of information. They’re probably not in a clear mind space to cook, clean, and manage other daily tasks. Ask them directly what they need and tell them that you’ll take care of it. One of the best things you can do is bring them food since cooking is not a priority for them right now. If you’re making food at home, double the recipe so you can bring over extras to your friend. 

Do they have a pet? If so, volunteer to walk the dog or pick up cat food. Be mindful of other necessities your friend would typically manage, and ask them how you could provide support.

Discuss the Benefits of Palliative Care 

At some point, your loved one will require more than the occasional house call from you and other close friends and family members. They’re going to need professional at-home services from healthcare professionals. 

Palliative care is the interdisciplinary branch of healthcare that doctors prescribe to people with life-limiting illnesses. It’s a support system provided by professional caregivers and nurses, and the intention is to manage both physical and emotional pain.

Look for a healthcare provider that offers at-home palliative care in Toronto or another urban centre close to you, and ensure their services include:

  • Personal Support 
  • Massage Therapy
  • Emotional Support (and access to counsellors)
  • Pain Management (for example, prescription medication management and physiotherapy)
  • And more

Palliative care will give your friend the help they need to feel their best during a tough time, and you’ll rest a little easier knowing that they’re in good hands.

Consider Therapy

Coping with a life-limiting illness is tough on the affected person and their loved ones. It’s a demanding and stressful time, so don’t forget to take care of your mental health with therapy and support groups.

Illness isn’t part of anyone’s plans, and it’s something that nobody can control. If you’re mindful of these tips, you’ll be a compassionate and understanding pillar of support for your friend.