Human mortality is a difficult topic that many people are not prepared to acknowledge. In the case of a patient who is 80 years and knows that they are dying, one has to consider that this person is likely going through anticipatory grief. The patient is looking back at their life and evaluating their achievements to see whether they are satisfied with past events and their life as a whole, according to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development (Balasubramanian et al., 2018). To help the patient, the healthcare provider can focus on spirituality, open discussion, reflection. For example, if the patient finds peace in religion, they may be helped by a faith leader or a shared prayer. They may also wish to spend more time with their spouse, request silence, or talk about their past with the clinician. It is vital to concentrate on the mental health of the patient and make sure that they do not experience despair.
For a spouse who knows that their long-time partner is dying, anticipatory grief is also inevitable. Here, the health care provider can offer an honest conversation about the patient and their health. The spouse may benefit from grief support, including one-on-one and group therapy that allows them to express their anxieties. If the spouse wishes to spend time with the patient, they should be allowed to do so. Losing a significant person in one’s life can have tremendous negative effects on both mental and physical health, and despair is an issue for the grieving person as well. The clinician has to anticipate symptoms of depression and suggest healthy coping methods, including therapy, journaling, spiritual and familial support (Andersson et al., 2016). Overall, it is vital for the health provider not to neglect the patient’s and spouse’s needs to share their fears and pain. One should offer respite while staying honest about health and the inevitability of the patient’s passing.
Andersson, E., Salickiene, Z., & Rosengren, K. (2016). To be involved—A qualitative study of nurses’ experiences of caring for dying patients. Nurse Education Today, 38, 144-149. Web.
Balasubramanian, C., Subramanian, M., Balasubramanian, S., Agrawal, A., Raveendran, S., & Kaliaperumal, C. (2018). “Thanatophobia”: Physician’s perspective of dealing with patients with fear of death. Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, 9(1), 103-104. Web.