She had cancer and her condition degenerated. The doctors informed her family that she had just a few months to live.
They didn’t take the news lightly. They resorted to prayers, moving her from one church to another in different cities.
She was moved to different cities in Nigeria on different people’s recommendation. Her family was in search of a miracle so that she could live longer.
On many occasions, she pleaded to be returned home or hospital and allowed to die peacefully, but they wouldn’t have that.
On one of their many rigorous journeys from Portharcourt to Enugu, she died. All the journeys and discomforts took a toll on her and she died the way she didn’t want to die.
I know this may be an unpopular opinion because of religious fanaticism, but just hear me out first and you will see reasons with me.
When a loved one is terminally ill, it is like time freezes. It can be difficult and very painful to accept the news and plan for the end of their life.
It’s just like grief after the death of a loved one. You will feel different emotions such as anxiety, depression, sorrow, anger, denial etc.
Most people will reject the news by wishing it away, some will grieve or swing into action by resorting to miracle merchants and herbalists for a miracle.
Speaking about death may seem like a form of abandonment because it suggests you have given up but it is a very important conversation to have. It will make it easier for you and your loved one.
Most times when terminally ill patients ask to be allowed to rest in peace after their health defies medical assistance, we are quick to shut them up.
We tell them to not give up on life so easily without a fight. Have faith in God we tell them and subject them to more physical and psychological torture.
Most people nearing the end of life want to be at home, they simply want some privacy and peace. Ordinary things like a familiar view, sleeping on their own bed and in their own room, around their own belongings can be very comforting. They may even wish to see a particular family member, neighbour or favourite pet often.
As much as possible, resist the temptation of moving them from prayer houses to herbalists against their wishes. Don’t leave your sick loved ones at the mercy of pastors, imams and herbalists.
Your intention may be good but it may not be the best for them. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in God and I believe in miracles as well but sometimes, some people just don’t want their loved ones to waste money on their terminal illnesses.
Don’t be so focused on last-resort treatments that you continue to push away any thoughts of their end just to relieve yourself of any possible conflict of not fulfilling all righteousness because you feel unsure you are doing the right thing by just not doing much aside the usual waiting for them to die.
Of a truth, you may need to allow them die peacefully surrounded by love and laughter, not as a burden moving from one point to another in search of a miracle.
Do not expose them to clergies and herbalists who reduce them to guinea pigs, subjecting them to all manner of incisions and concoctions all in the name of treatment or miracles. Their comfort and dignity should be of utmost concern to you.
Create a soothing environment for them. They will find it comforting to hear you speak gently to them, spend time with them, chat with them, hold their hands, make them feel safe, play their favorite music, read to them, massage their hands and feet gently.
Even if they are unconscious, they may still be able to hear or feel you. Show them love, care and support to make their last days count.
Not everyone who is terminally ill will be ready to talk about death. You can start by asking them what they are worried about, how you can help, and ask them if there’s anything they want to talk about.
Terminally ill people sometimes also hold on to life because they sense that others are not ready to let go. Assure them it’s all right to let go when they are ready to do so. Assure them you have come to terms with their truth.
If they are worried about their children, parents, siblings, partners or whatever; assure them they are in safe hands. This may allay their fears and offer them enormous relief. This will make the time they have left worthwhile.
Some may want to talk because they are tired of keeping up a good front, afraid of losing control, becoming a burden, and leaving tasks and plans unfinished.
Sharing such fears and getting reassured can help them feel less overwhelmed and alone. It also offers them opportunity to say “I love you” to make amends where necessary.
Caring for a terminally ill person can be physically and emotionally demanding. So, it is important to look after yourself as well.
You need to get realistic views from their doctors of what to expect at this time of their life so you can make plans. You can also employ the services of care givers so you are not overwhelmed.
Seeking spiritual counsel is good. They offer real comfort to believers. But make sure their comfort and dignity are maintained in their final moments.