What is it?
The emotional demands and stresses of caring for someone at the end of life can be high. Shock, anger, anxiety confusion, loneliness, grief, guilt and fear are all common reactions when confronting death and it is important to find ways to cope with these powerful emotions that are right for you.
Being able to talk honestly about how you are feeling is a good start. Often it can help to have these conversations with someone who is close to you – the person dying, a family member or friend – while sometimes it’s easier to confide in someone who is not directly involved in the situation. If you’re uncomfortable talking about your emotions or are struggling to make sense of what is happening, then your GP, a counsellor or a LifeCircle guide are among those you can turn to for support.
Taking regular breaks is another way that you can look after yourself, both physically and emotionally. As well as calling on the people around you to help with the practical work of caring, respite services can let you have timeout to rest and recharge.
Why is it important?
Caring for someone in the final stages of life can take its toll on your health and wellbeing, especially if you are caring for the person over a long period of time. Taking the time to manage your emotional needs can:
- Reduce stress
- Give you greater confidence and clarity
- Build your emotional resilience and coping skills
- Assist you in dealing with challenging behaviours and situations
- Help you manage your relationships, including with person you are caring for
- Allow you to continue in your caring role for as long as possible
When do I access it?
You can seek support at any time and it can be ongoing or only when you feel you need it. Remember that asking for help can ease some of the difficulties you might face while caring. Talking to someone in the early stages of caring can help you understand the situation you are facing and assist you to prepare and plan for what lies ahead.
How do I access it?
To speak with a LifeCircle guide, make a booking. Or join our community of people who have experience caring for a dying person and can help guide you through this process.
There are many counselling services available, both paid-for and cost-free. To find one that suits you, ask your friends, family, colleagues or clinical contacts, or try the services below. Support groups, also listed below, are another good source of help and advice for caregivers in many different situations (parents, children, disease-specific, culturally and linguistically diverse etc.); they meet in person, by phone or online.
You can also contact the following:
- Local hospital
- Community nurses
- Palliative care service
- Community health centre
- Government organisations such as the Carer Gateway
Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres (1800 052 222, or 1800 059 059 for emergency respite support)
- Counselling groups such as Australia Counselling, Relationships Australia and Parentline
- Crisis support organisations such as Lifeline, Beyondblue and Headspace
- Peer support groups such as Carers Australia and Connecting Carers NSW
- Disease-specific support groups such as Motor Neurone Disease Australia, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Cancer Council Australia (or 13 11 20)
- And your state or territory Cancer Council:
- NSW - Cancer Council New South Wales
- (02) 9334 1900
- VIC - Cancer Council Victoria
- (03) 9514 6100
- QLD - Cancer Council Queensland
- (07) 3634 5100
- SA - Cancer Council South Australia
- (08) 8291 4111
- WA - Cancer Council Western Australia
- (08) 9212 4333
- TAS - Cancer Council Tasmania
- ACT - Cancer Council Australian Capital Territory
- (02) 6257 9999
- NT - Cancer Council Northern Territory
- (08) 8927 4888