How to Support Someone with a Terminal Illness

Depression elderly
An elderly woman looking out her window

Diagnosis of a terminal illness can cause the energy level of the patient to fall at its lowest. During a time like this, they need people around them who are capable of supporting them. They do not only need a caretaker, but a true friend to be there with them in the last of their days. It’s a hard truth to accept, but it’s better than offering false hope. Unfortunately, nothing can prepare you for losing a loved one, but there are specific ways to support them. Here are some tips to explain how to help someone with terminal illness:

Be There for Them

Supporting someone with terminal illness demands more than just being there physically. You have to be emotionally present, as well. If your friend is willing to talk about it with you, give your friend the proper attention. You don’t always have to respond to them verbally because they might be looking for the just listener, even if they complain about something. There is always a possibility of your loved one being in discomfort, despite the quality care you’re providing to them. You have to be patient with them and listen to them to fix the issue for them. 

Furthermore, suppose your friend has been exposed to asbestos due to the negligent behavior of his company, and he becomes a mesothelioma victim. In that case, it is his legal right to file a lawsuit against such a company. You can guide him to find a good lawyer. It’s better to search for a lawyer around your friend’s area. For instance, if your friend lives in Massachusetts, United States, you can ask him to choose law firms like Sokolove Law to help your friend in his compensation case.

Prepare Yourself 

Knowing the inevitable loss of your loved one can be a lot to accept, so take time to prepare yourself. Before you help them deal with their illness, comprehend and process your feelings. Acknowledge your fears and worries, and try to rationalize your emotions before you meet them. In a time like this, your terminally ill friend is looking for a mentally stable friend, so organize your inner turmoil when you visit them. Meet them heartily, and try to bring their morale up. You can avoid the mistake of commenting on their physical appearance as their sickness may have caused weight or hair loss which they are already aware of. It’s better to learn about their diagnosis yourself instead of asking them to repeat the information about their illness for you. It can be exhausting for them to relive the trauma repeatedly, but if they want to keep some information secret deliberately, don’t chase it.

2 Person Holding Hands

Make a Wish List 

Sometime after the diagnosis, your terminally ill loved one would be ready to accept that they will have to leave someday. It could be a depressive phase for your friend and even for you, but there’s something which could help you both – a wish list! Health experts worldwide have suggested that making a wish list is of immense help in uplifting a struggling patient’s mood. Talk to them about what they always wanted to do, and see if you can make it possible for them. It could be something as simple as riding a motorcycle or as daring as going scuba diving. As long as it doesn’t directly affect their illness, allow them to enjoy it all one last time. If your friend cannot travel due to the ailment, bring them photos, videos, and live sessions from those places. If they want to talk to someone before they go, arrange a meeting according to their liking. These simple wishes can help them stay happy for as long as they’re with you.

Discuss Logistics

When people are aware of their final days, they usually want to plan things. Speak openly and empathetically to your terminally ill friend about their plans. Discussing funerals, for instance, can be emotionally exhausting but remember that you’ll be able to fulfill their last wishes with such communication. Don’t rush these topics but ensure that you carry out such discussion at the right time before it’s too late for your loved one to participate actively. Ask them to help you sort out their legal and financial paperwork so that you could prevent any such chaos after their demise. Make sure you allow them to review their will, and estate matters, whenever they are at ease. Try to stay compassionate during this discussion so that they could be completely honest with you.


You can spend as much time as possible with your departing friend, but try not to crowd them. Remember to always respect their privacy and dignity. Pray about them but don’t give them false hope because your job as a supporter is to make it easier for them. Enjoy and cherish every memory you have with them, and let them know you are genuinely there for them.