Module overview


The expert says
Dr. Mike Harlos discusses reframing difficult situations for patients and families (3:22)Video transcript
I’ve been there
Catherine and her mother Diane speak about the importance of laughter and being open to experiencing emotions as they come when living with a life limiting illness. (3:22)Video transcript

At first, she wouldn’t let me drive her to the hospital or to appointments or be involved in her meds.

When the patient first receives a diagnosis, everyone — you, the patient, and your



“Family” means anyone that the person who is ill says is family. It may include people who are not related by blood or through marriage.



— is likely to experience all kinds of thoughts and feelings, both right away and throughout the illness. Everyone’s experience will be unique.

Every person is unique in how they experience and respond to illness. There is no single way to understand and predict how families and friends may support each other when someone is diagnosed with a serious illness. However, some of the challenges that come with providing care for someone tend to affect most caregivers. Finding the right supports at the right time can help.

This module explores some of the thoughts and feelings that people may experience when someone they care about has been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness. The module explores:

  • Emotions like fear, anxiety, anger, guilt, hope, and grief
  • Reactions like disbelief, denial, and a need for closeness and intimacy
  • How roles held by different family members before a life-limiting diagnosis may shift and change
  • Strategies and ideas to help when anger and conflict surface in families when there is a serious illness

Helpful resources - Module 5: Making sense of intense emotions