Near the end of someone’s life, she and her family are likely to experience quite a bit more denial than you would expect. It serves a purpose, but denial can cloud the situation to such an extent that your senior misses out. Dealing with the denial helps to ensure that’s not the case for your senior.
Denial Is a Mechanism for Coping
At its heart, denial is really just a coping mechanism. People rely on denial because it’s much easier to remake reality into something that it isn’t than it is to deal with the situation as it is. In the case of your senior’s situation, denial keeps her and other family members from facing the reality that she’s very close to passing away. Avoiding those facts can make it a little easier to deal with day-to-day activities.
Denial Can Be Less than Helpful
The problem is that short-term denial might be a little bit helpful. Long-term denial or denial of significant facts is usually not helpful at all. For instance, denial could be keeping other family members from being around your senior as much as they probably should be and therefore losing valuable time with her.
Talk about the Situation
Talking about what’s happening is a good way to break through denial. This isn’t always easy to do on your own. End-of-life care services can help you to find assistance in dealing with your feelings as well as those of your senior and of other family members. When all of you can talk about what your senior is experiencing, you can start to break through the walls of denial.
Keep Talking about What’s Going On
This isn’t necessarily a one and done conversation, either. Denial usually has a way of creeping back in and making problems again. The best way for you as a group to deal with that problem is to keep focusing on reality and on what’s truly going on with your senior’s situation. When you can do that consistently, harmful denial doesn’t stand a chance.
A key to reducing the amount of denial for everyone involved is to educate your senior and your other family members as much as you can. End-of-life care providers can help you to keep everyone on the same page and to help care for your senior at this stage of her life in the ways that she needs you to care for her.