How do I ask for, accept and decline help?
It can be hard to ask for help, to accept help and to say no to help. When you are approaching the end of your life and start telling people, you or your carers might get offers of help. In other cases, if it looks like you are coping okay, people might not realise you need help.
People like to be asked for help and like to know how to help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It can be much better for you and anyone providing help, rather than leave things to chance or guesswork. Let family and friends know what help is needed and when it should be done. Tasks that can be done by others include:
housework such as cooking, cleaning, laundry or gardening
looking after pets
providing transport to and from appointments, to deliver medication, or take kids to school
communicating with friends, family or your community
providing respite for the main carer by staying with the person for a while.
Apps such as Gather My Crew can help you coordinate with friends or family and roster practical support for someone who is dying. Palliative Care Australia’s conversation guides are a great way to start conversations about what matters to the person who is dying.
Saying no to offers of help is okay, too. As you begin to tell people about your situation, you may get lots of offers of help. People may offer help that is actually unhelpful and it is okay to say no. For example, you may have many offers to walk your dog when you actually just want to curl up in bed with them. Or saying no to a 10th lasagna that week. Talking to your healthcare team or a support person can be helpful if this is something you are experiencing.
As you get closer to dying, think about how you want to spend your energy. Be aware of how other people’s emotions and behaviours are affecting you. Others will process the grief in their own way and time. However, this is about you and managing your quality of life. Although their needs should be considered, yours should be prioritised.
This information is general guidance and may not be applicable to your specific circumstances. For personal advice, please contact a medical or legal practitioner or a spiritual, cultural or community leader.
This content was written for people in Victoria, Australia. Laws and practices differ in other states, territories and countries.