Planning After a Terminal Illness Diagnosis

Posted by Lucille123

At a Death Cafe (, people, often strangers, gather to eat cake, drink tea and discuss death. The goal is to increase awareness of death with a view to helping people make the most of their (finite) lives. Reach out ( today to find out more! 


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Whether you’ve learned that you or a loved one has advanced cancer, lung disease, dementia, or another incurable medical condition, there is nothing easy about receiving a terminal illness diagnosis. Coming to terms with the diagnosis is painful enough, but you’ll also need to make several difficult decisions pertaining to the management of your medical condition, estate, and end-of-life arrangements. 


Below, Death Cafe ( discusses some of the arrangements you may need to consider when you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness — even when doing so seems impossible.  

Palliative or Hospice Care

After you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, you may wish to pursue treatment options that can help to ease pain and make breathing a bit easier. Healthline notes that palliative and hospice ( care are two options to consider, as both can help to increase comfort levels, support you and your family emotionally, and improve the quality of life in terminally ill patients. In-home care is available, but some individuals may choose to transition into a hospice facility, nursing home, or assisted living community.

Selling Your Home

If you or your loved one decides to move into a hospice, assisted living, or nursing home facility, you’ll also need to consider whether to sell your loved one’s home now or after he or she passes. The home’s current value ( may be a determining factor, so be sure to review home prices in your area before deciding whether to sell or hold onto your loved one’s home. 


If you choose to sell your home now, the earned proceeds could be used to pay for you or your loved one’s medical bills, housing costs, and end-of-life arrangements. Or as an alternative to selling the home, you could refinance as a way of freeing up money for these types of expenses. It’s important to understand how refinancing a mortgage works, however, so be sure to learn more about this option before applying. 

End-of-Life Planning

In addition to exploring your options for housing and medical treatments, there are some other arrangements you’ll need to make when it comes to preparing you or a loved one’s end-of-life planning documents. Mayo Clinic notes that these end-of-life plans ( include creating an advance directive and living will, organizing important documents ( and sharing them with loved ones, and pre-planning a funeral or memorial service. 


As unpleasant as it may be, there are several benefits of pre-planning your own funeral or memorial service after you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness. These benefits include:


  • The ability to communicate your final wishes and personalize your funeral service.

  • Less stress and financial burden on surviving loved ones. 

  • Protection against increasing funeral costs. 


To assist you in your pre-planning, Marguerita Cheng of CFP discusses five of the steps ( you’ll need to take along the way. Some of the options you’ll need to consider include burials and cremations, traditional funeral services, wakes or visitations, celebrations of life, and memorials. 

Take Time to Grieve

It’s also important to ensure that you or your loved one’s spiritual and emotional needs are met during this difficult time. Death Cafe ( is one great resource for locating a nearby cafe where you can discuss the passing of a loved one with others that are empathic, many of them either going through the same situation or having experienced it in the past. 


And don’t neglect self-care, something that perhaps has never been more important for your mental and physical health. While being patient with yourself during the necessary grieving phases, you should develop ways to deal with stress ( For example, if a certain photograph or personal item triggers feelings of anxiety or overwhelming sadness, remove it and store it away for safekeeping. You’ll want to remove as many of these from your living space as possible to invite as much positivity as possible. 

In Conclusion

Whether you or a spouse, parent, sibling, or friend has been diagnosed with a terminal medical condition, it’s normal to experience feelings of anticipatory grief as you come to terms with the diagnosis. You might experience feelings of sorrow and anger, or even emotions such as denial, acceptance, and depression. 


As difficult as it is to cope with a terminal illness, it’s important to remember that death simply means the end of the physical body. It doesn’t mean the end of you or your loved one’s existence. Your loved one will live on in your memories until you meet again in heaven.