Helping Those with a Terminal Illness

Few things stop someone in their tracks as does a terminal diagnosis. Get practical advice for how to care for those facing the end of this earthly life, helping them both spiritually and with the everyday details.

 

Terminal illness is challenging to deal with and can make some people very uncomfortable. Christians have the gift of the Gospel and can bring the presence and promise of the Savior as true encouragement.

  • Finding out
    • When family members or friends of someone who has received a diagnosis, but bring that news in confidence, ask them to encourage the person to talk to the pastor.
    • Pray for people even as they are going through the tests and then follow up.
  • As you minister
    • Listen, listen, listen.
    • Listen with a true heart of compassion for what they’re walking through.
    • Remember you’ve got the hope they need to hear; bring the promises of the Savior to them.
  • Fear of the unknown
    • Remind them of what they doknow, the truths of Scripture.
    • Remind them of the people around them praying for them.
  • Being prepared
  • Think in advance about how to talk about death. 
  • Practice out loud in private the first time.
  • Find ways to encourage them:
    • Provide resources for them.
    • Find someone for them to talk to who has been through a similar experience.
    • Take notes afterward. What you heard (date of diagnosis, favorite things) will help you to follow up in a personal way.
    • Seek to be a support team:
      • Support the family.
      • Give them Scriptures to pray with that person.
      • Look for ways to make things easier for them (meals, housework, etc.).
      • Consider involving neighbors, co-workers, church family.

Thought Starters:

  • Do I have resources ready for when this happens in my congregation?
  • Is there someone I could bring a resource to this week?
  • Is there someone I could be mentoring to become a caring visitor from our congregation?

Resources:

  • Compilation of Scripture passages that the person can keep and read
  • www.CTAinc.com(Hope books, Scripture cards, pocket pieces)
  • Letters from the Land of CancerWalter Wangerin, Jr.
  • Email from “What’s Your Grief?” (www.whatsyourgrief.com)