When faced with a terminal illness there are several dimensions of pain a person goes through. Besides from the physical pain, a person is faced with an equally challenging emotional battle. There is no easy way to deal with all the pain associated with a terminal illness and if your loved one is facing the final stages of life, it may be hard to know what you can do to help. Although someone may be accepting that death is near, this does not mean that they need to stop living.

A main concern for caring with someone with a terminal illness is to ease the pain. The quality of their days, not the quantity, really becomes the main focus. Holistic approaches are used as a way to help ease the mind, body and spirit. The physical pain needs to be acknowledged, but it just as important to treat the emotional pain. Massage therapy may have more power than we even know but here are some benefits of massage for a person who needs it most.

Behavioral Effect: When physical pain is eased, physical tasks are performed with greater comfort. Something as simple as being able to get dressed increases participation in a more active daily life. Doing normal things is one of the best ways to help you feel more like yourself.

Emotional Effect: Massage enhances positive feelings and mood. The ability to take a break from worrying and even smile can give the person’s mind a break from mental anguish. This cognitive effect, the interruption the cycle of pain and fear, can result in more positive thought patterns.

Social Effect: Touch and massage enhances the relationship between the ill person and the caregivers. Deeper relationships are formed and trust is established. Human touch creates a way for the dying person to interact and connect with others, decreasing feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Spiritual Effect: Human touch can enhance spiritual well-being. Feel like they had more of a desire to participate in life.


Massage’s capability to provide so many positive feelings in a person with a negative outlook is invaluable. Regardless of the condition of the body, the mind has control of the quality of life and massage can help encourage the mind and spirit.

“Several years ago, a tall quiet man in his late to mid 50s came to Bella Sante in hopes he’d escape from his worries or at least as long as the massage session would go. He wanted to feel human and have a safe place to himself. A place he would lay peacefully and be taken care of. The man just wanted his sore muscles to relax. He mentioned that he had a terminal illness and there weren’t many more days he would live. I mentioned to him that I will do my best to relax him. So I worked on him with gentle hands just as he wanted and spent extra time making him comfortable. And from what I could tell, he was. At the end of the massage, he thanked me with a hand shake and kindness in his eyes. A year later, a woman approached me in the spa lounge. She introduced herself as the man’s girlfriend and asked me if I remembered him. I mentioned to her of course, he was someone that I’d never forget. She also mentioned in our conversation before her boyfriend passed on he wanted her to come back to the spa and bring his twenty year old son. He wanted son to see me because I was his dad’s angel. From that day on, once a year and sometimes twice the son comes in for a massage with me.” — Ann-Marie Sevigny, Bella Santé in Lexington, MA