Painful conversations.

New Contributor

Painful conversations.

Hi everyone. I'm looking for advice or experiences anyone has had around supporting a loved one facing the last stages of their cancer battle and their loved ones to have painful and difficult conversations.


My mum was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer 9 years ago and has been in constant treatment since then, keeping it at bay. However the Drs are starting to run out of treatment options and her health is inevitably declining with every treatment and new cancer spread. I'm 29 and an only child and so I feel a lot of the emotional responsibility for caring for them both through this. My mum and dad have always had difficulty talking about or planning for her death and neither of them have ever seen a psychologist or counsellor, but now we are faced with the likliehood that these are her last months to a year. I want to find ways to start and support the conversations they need to have about palliative care, what the end looks like, what life might look afterwards. Even writing this is making me tear up and so I too need support to process what this means, though I at least have been seeing a mental health professional during her illnesses.


Basically, what have people experienced as positives and negatives about these conversations, how the health system can be of use, what are the things that we need to think about? I'd like to find a way to start these conversations happening before decisions have to be made under even more stress and emotion.


Thank you in advance for anyone who can share their own experiences or advice on this painful topic.

Super Contributor

Re: Painful conversations.

Hi @Lucinda91,

I'm sorry to hear of your Mother's  demise.   I have terminal kidney cancer & have always talked about my impending death with my family.   Some are fine with talking about it, while others don't really want to hear.  Unfortunately, dying is a necessary part of the life cycle.   It comes to us all at some point.  I already have my funeral planned and my coffin lies waiting for me in one of the spare bedrooms.  My hubby built a new lid for a coffin we bought from a funeral parlour, & I painted it.  Its my sarcophagus.


The beauty of being able to pre-plan your funeral is that you can have it exactly the way you want it.   There are some death doulas around if you're lucky enough to have one in your area.  They can be of great help & assistance to someone who is dying.

I don't think there is any easy way of starting the conversation,  but its better to do it.   There will be tears, there is usually always tears, even now when I'm talking about my death I usually end up crying.  But if you can persuade your mother that it can also be of benefit to everyone of you in helping you come to terms with it, that would be a good thing.
I'm very glad that you're having counselling, & I hope its working for you.  Another thing - does your Mother have a will?   There are too many people who die without one. 
I hope your mum has a long time yet before she dies, & I do hope you find a way to start the conversation.   Just bite the bullet. 

You have my best wishes
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