Dealing with a terminal illness

Dealing with a terminal illness

Life doesn’t always go to plan. The one thing we rarely think about, is the possibility of being diagnosed with a terminal illness. If this is happening to you or a loved one, we’ve put together a list of things to think about to help you prepare.

When things don’t go to plan, you need to plan

Planning ahead can make a huge difference for loved ones, relatives and friends and can be reassuring knowing that loved ones will be looked after. It also means talking about how you wish to be cared for in the final months of your life.

Things to consider now for later

It’s important to plan ahead for so many reasons. Not just to put your mind at ease but to allow you to have important conversations and goodbyes. By being prepared, the financial, legal, and practical impacts of illness and death will be much easier to manage. 

The emotional impact

There’s no right or wrong way to react when you’re told that you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Everyone reacts differently and copes in their own way. What is important is to give yourself time to take in what’s happening.

Friends and family are important and a great source of assistance. Perhaps ask a friend or family member to coordinate meals, updates, visits etc. It’ll take the pressure off you and allow you to focus on looking after yourself or your loved one. 

Cancer Council Victoria has a list of topics that provide help on how to manage the personal and practical aspects of dealing with a terminal illness. 

Balancing work and your health

If you need help on how to manage a terminal illness and work, it’s important to know what you can and can’t do. Only you will know what feels right when it comes to sharing and opening up to people. But sometimes having someone you trust to talk to in the workplace, will make things easier for you especially if you have to change your workload or responsibilities. 

Healthdirect provides some useful tips on how to look after yourself whilst working, whether it’s you that’s been diagnosed or a loved one. 

Financial considerations

If you’re living with a terminal illness, there is financial support available to you that can help with expenses such as care, health and general everyday costs.

If you’re caring for someone, then it’s good to find out what support you can receive. There are payments, discounts or financial assistance you may be able to access to help buy important equipment or services. Knowing what you can apply for is important. Better Health Channel provides some information on where to go to get support and advice. 

How your super can help

Super and its default insurance cover is there to help you. Many members automatically receive default level of Death & Total and Permanent Disablement (TPD) cover. Death cover can also help you if you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness and TPD may help you cover ongoing expenses and one-off costs that you or your dependants may face if:

  • you die or are diagnosed with a terminal illness, or
  • become permanently disabled and not able to work.

Check what you’re eligible for here.

Things to consider to help you & your loved ones

  1. Check your insurance cover through super

    Most members have insurance cover as part of their super account. A Terminal Illness Benefit, which is part of your default insurance cover, may help with ongoing and one-off expenses if you or your loved one can no longer work. Super can also be accessed early when diagnosed with a terminal illness.
  2. Estate planning

    This is the ultimate ‘get prepared’ go-to step. By getting your Estate in shape, having a Will drafted and nominating a power of attorney, all the hard decisions are made in advance so that when the time comes, all the major stuff is settled and taken care of. 

  3. Update your beneficiaries

    It’s a good idea to check who you’ve nominated as beneficiaries on your super and life insurance policies. By having a Binding Death Benefit Nomination form in place, you’ll know that your super will go to your loved ones and they’ll be looked.

  4. Manage your digital legacy

    Ever wondered what happens to your social media accounts after you die? These days our digital presence is widespread and it’s important to take some time to understand the end-of-life policies and processes available for each of the digital sites or assets we use or own. 

  5. Choose your own funeral

    This might sound morbid but by doing so you’ll take some pressure off your family when the time comes. Check out the Australian Funeral Directors Association for tips on preplanning a funeral or Moneysmart for advice on how to pay for your funeral in advance.

  6. Saying goodbye

    Part of preparing for your or a loved one’s death includes planning how you’ll say goodbye. If you can, spend some quality time with friends and family. But this is a personal experience and only you’ll know what’s right for you and your loved ones. Think about how you can leave some memories. Writing letters, creating a memory box, or making a video are just a few things that you could consider. 


Do you have questions about how to access financial support through your super?

You can speak to one of our experienced financial advisers at no extra cost.

Request a callback

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