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How to Talk to a Loved One with Terminal Illness April 14, 2022

Loved one grieving over terminal illness

Life can be full of challenging and uncomfortable situations. Few perhaps are more challenging than finding out someone you love or care about has a terminal illness. What do you say? How do you act? How can you help?

If you find out that someone you know is terminally ill, here are some things to keep in mind.

Don’t Avoid Reality

Comments like “it’s going to be okay” or “everything’s going to turn out fine” likely won’t be helpful. It simply avoids the reality of the situation and may even demonstrate you don’t grasp the situation.

Check-in On Them

Let them know you are thinking about them by reaching out. Let them know you are accessible. Depending on their situation, ask them out for lunch or if there is anything you can do for them.

Let Them Know You Care

Sure, your actions speak volumes but don’t be afraid to tell them you care about them or love them.

Be Of Service

Let them know you are available for whatever they need. It could be errands, yard work, cooking, babysitting, or taking them somewhere. Try to make it as easy as possible for them to ask for your assistance.

Let Them Know You are Sending Good Thoughts or Prayers Their Way

It is important you respect their personal spiritual beliefs. If they share your religious beliefs, let them know you are praying for them. If they don’t have strong religious convictions, let them know you are sending good thoughts their way. Be respectful.

Try to Maintain Some Normalcy

While you don’t want to ignore their situation, you don’t want it to become the focal point of every discussion. Be sure to include normal topics in conversation like sports, TV, hobbies or what’s going on in the news.

Be Strong

This can be difficult, especially for sensitive people. Do your best to be that strong shoulder to lean on.

Don’t Treat Them as Weak or Fragile

Your words, actions, and attitude can greatly impact the ill person. Don’t treat them like their sickly or weak.


Those suffering from a terminal illness may be surrounded by an abundance of medical advice and even cheerleaders. While there is nothing wrong with that, what they may really appreciate is a good listener. If they are willing to talk, be willing to listen without judgment or advice. Having a good listener may be the best medicine of all.

Terminal illness can be an unfortunate part of life. You may be able to play a vital and important role for someone you care about who is navigating a very difficult time. Reach out, offer a hug, and be sincere. Listen and be sensitive. Most of all, be caring.

At the Fares J. Radel Funeral Homes and Crematory, we are here to help. Whether you are at a point in your life where you are interested in pre-planning or are in a current need, you can count on our family to serve your family.

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