Getting a mesothelioma diagnosis is a very difficult thing to hear. As a loved one you may struggle to find the right words or to avoid saying the wrong thing. Emotional support is not a science and everyone reacts differently. We’ve distilled down what the folks at Prevention put together containing “gentle advice” to help guide you through this trying time.
1. Try to live as normally as possible
If you have some time with your loved one, spend it wisely. You will always cherish the time you spent together whether it’s simply sitting on the porch at night with loved ones or watching your favorite movie together.
2. Spread the word appropriately
"Remember that this is their diagnosis and you need to respect their wishes," says Staci Torgeson, whose mom has Stage IV lung cancer. Always ask their permission before you share the diagnosis with others. While some people would rather have as many people there to support them, others are fiercely private.
3. Ask questions
"Don't try to be a mind reader," says Liz O'Donnell, whose mother died of ovarian cancer and whose father is battling Alzheimer's. Ask what they are worried about, how you can provide the greatest help, what are their greatest worries. A lot of times these thoughts can be worse stuck in their heads than when it’s discussed between family or close friends.
4. Don't impose your opinion.
Everyone will react to their diagnosis differently, so it's essential to respect their wishes and not foist your own feelings upon them. No one can ever know how they will react to such a diagnosis until they receive it so
5. Really listen
Emily Kaplowitz, who works for The Fixler Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting people faced with a life-threatening illness, stresses the importance of being an active listener. Being an active listener includes following through with the correct body language as well such as head nodding and lots of eye contact.
6. Laugh often
"Buy funny books. Read funny stories," says Loven. "I took my grandfather to see the movie Dodgeball and he laughed so hard his chest shook. That's a memory I will treasure forever." Laughter has also been shown to improve quality of life and vitals.
7. Discuss logistical matters
If a loved one only has a short time left to live, do what you can to help them get their affairs in order. But if the opposite is true, don't rush the conversation. "Don't immediately talk about funeral arrangements if they have two years to live, but don't wait until their illness progresses so far along that they can't be part of the decisions," says Lavin. Harvey advises letting the patient dictate the amount of future planning—such as wills and estate matters.
8. Create a wish list
Once the patient has accepted his diagnosis, Lavin suggests offering to help him make a wish list. "Tell them, 'When and if you are ready, I'd love to help you come up with a list of things you'd like to do before you go. This can be incredibly meaningful and rewarding to both the one with the diagnosis and the loved ones to share these immersive moments.
9. Divide up the responsibilities
"Every family member isn't cut out for every job," says Tracee Dunblazier. We all know which family members can handle certain things and which cannot. It’s important to divide up responsibilities to minimize the stress on the one diagnosed as well as the stress on grieving family.
10. Don't stay away
"I wish people hadn't stayed away or avoided calling because they thought they were intruding," says Tronstein, who lost her father to lung cancer just six weeks after he was diagnosed. It’s so important to feel like there I always a support system in place. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be accompanied by a lot of uncertainty so it’s important that none of this uncertainty revolves around who is going to be there for emotional support.
The Paul Law Firm advocates for victims of asbestos-related diseases. If you or a loved one is suffering from mesothelioma, call the Paul Law Firm. With over 2.5 billion dollars collected for victims of asbestos exposure, we have the knowledge and the experience to fight for you. We also understand that fighting doesn’t just happen in the courtroom. It also happens in a lab where we are fighting for a cure. Check out the Mesothelioma Research Foundation of America here.
Call us today at 1-855 88 LEGAL (885-3425) or contact us online to discuss your case with one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers.