#23 – What if my mom in Chapel Hill, NC only has a few months to live?

Click here to see the prior item in this series:  What happens if my mother gets too sick to stay at home?

What if I’m told Mom only has a few months to live? I can’t fly out to be with her for that long, but I want her to know that I am here for her.

The news that a family member is dying is difficult to hear—and yet, it is a basic part of life. When you hear that a parent has a terminal illness, you may be flooded with emotions: sorrow, disbelief, anger, anxiety. It can be hard to know what to do or what to say. Fortunately, many organizations are working to improve the lives of dying people and their families. Think about a hospice program. Hospice provides special care for people who are near the end of life. Check with Medicare for information on hospice benefits.

Talk to your own friends, clergy, or colleagues. Many have probably experienced the serious illness and death of a beloved friend or family member. Exchanging stories can help you cope with your own impending loss and might provide some ideas as you try to decide what to do.  Contact your parent’s doctor and talk to your own healthcare provider as well to find out what will need to be done, the kinds of care that your mother or father is likely to need, and how you can arrange for it to happen. And if there is a primary caregiver, ask what you can do for them.

Be there for your parent when you can. Spend time with your mom or dad and let your parent know the important part he or she has played in your life. When you can’t be there, you can send notes or cards or a taped message, in addition to calling.

Some people find that it is very hard to talk about death and dying and will go to great lengths to avoid the subject. Difficult as it is, talk to your parents about what is going on, but if you can’t have that conversation, don’t let that add to your worry. There is no single “right” way to approach the death of a loved one.

Click here to see the next item in this series:  Why do I feel so frustrated and guilty being so far away?

Acorn wishes to acknowledge the National Institute on Aging for this valuable content.


Within Acorn’s service area of Chapel Hill, Durham and surrounding areas in North Carolina (Hillsborough, Pittsboro, Morrisville, Cary, and Apex) the following resources may be especially helpful:

  • Orange County Department on Aging, 2551 Homestead Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516, (919) 968-2070
  • Durham Center for Senior Life, 406 Rigsbee Avenue – Suite 202, Durham, North Carolina   27701, (919) 688-8247
  • Chatham County Council on Aging, 365 North Carolina 87, Pittsboro, North Carolina   27312, (919) 542-4512
  • Triangle J Area Agency on Aging, 4307 Emperor Boulevard
- Suite 110, Durham, NC 27703, 919-558-2711
  • Resources for Seniors (Wake County), 1110 Navaho Dr.  – Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27609, 919-872-7933