Dealing with End-of-Life Decisions
Over the course of a lifetime, men face a variety of inevitable stresses that create emotional responses. Dealing with death and dying presents some of life’s great- est emotional stress. There are two ways in which a man ﬁnds himself con- fronting the issues surrounding death and dying: as someone caring for a dying person, most often a parent, and as someone who is facing his own death. In both roles he must ﬁnd ways to deal with his grief. Grief affects each person differ- ently but typically involves four stages—shock, denial, depression and with- drawal, and acceptance. If you are grieving, it is important for your emotional health to talk about your feelings—to a family member or a close friend, to oth- ers in a support group, or to a counselor. “Bottled up” emotions can lead to depression, withdrawal from friends and society, sudden irrational outbursts, feelings of anger and resentment, insomnia, and even physical illness. Here are some positive steps you can take to deal with grief:
• Rest, eat a healthy diet (see page 43), and keep warm (emotional stress will make your body temperature drop). Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they can add to your stress.
• Use relaxation techniques. Try deep breathing. People who are under stress tend to hold their breath or to breathe shallowly, which can cause fatigue and anxiety.
• Express your feelings. Talk to family, friends, members of a support group, or clergy.
• Accept help. Let others care for you. Let your friends and family make a meal for you, do some housework, or just listen to you. Such support can be healing for them as well as for you.
• Take as much time as you need. Grieving has no time frame.
• Think about how your life has changed and what that means for the future.