Whether dealing with a short or long term illness, the news that a person is living with a condition that is going to end their life is a shock to the system which requires a lot of emotional adjustment.
A new website has been developed for residents in Melbourne's northern and western suburbs with the goal of helping them through the process.
Every year thousands of Melbournians living across these regions receive the news they have a life-limiting condition.
The knowledge that a person is on the path towards death inevitably brings shock, grief. and in most cases, concerns for loved ones, family members and dependents.
People are left to grapple with the process of dying itself, the financial, spiritual and legal implications, and how to break the news to loved ones.
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network created the Precious Time website specifically for those who are dealing with these issues.
The website combines advice and insights from experts on how to have difficult conversations when end of life comes into focus - offering support not only to those directly affected, but also their family, friends and carers.
It also features a large directory of services which may be useful - many located in the Melbourne region. These services offer symptom support, cultural and spiritual help, home-help and mobility assistance, advance care planning, aged care and counselling services.
Philosopher Stephen Fleischfresser from University of Melbourne's Trinity College - which helped develop the website, said society as a whole was not very "death literate".
"We are not used to talking about dying, and these sort of taboos make it very difficult for people to talk openly about their needs and wants when they receive a life-limiting diagnosis," Dr Fleischfresser said.
"When you or a loved one receives an end-of-life diagnosis there are suddenly all these new questions, about matters you've never had to think about before.
"Finding those answers - even finding out where to look for those answers - can be an extra layer of stress at what is already a very stressful time. Precious Time, at the very least, makes that process much easier."
The Network's chief executive, Christopher Carter, said the site was developed after an extensive consultation process with members of the community, experts from palliative care and related fields.
While it is primarily focused on people living in the health network's catchment area, it contains information which may be helpful to anyone dealing with or supporting people living with life-limiting conditions.
To check out the website click HERE.
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