When Someone You Love Deeply Gets Sick
When you’re young and loving life, it can feel as though this will go on forever. You look in the mirror and see a healthy, vibrant body that’s in its physical prime but (more importantly) beneath it is a mind that’s sharp and at the top of its game. Your friendships are rewarding, your relationships are fulfilling, your studies are enlightening and your extracurricular passions are all consuming. Everyone tells you that these are the best years of your life and as cliche as this may be you think that maybe it’s worth taking a little time to appreciate the status quo. The summers seem to go on forever, you’re making memories that will last for the rest of your life and while, sure, money could be a little better you accept that financial mishaps are all part of the learning curve. When you’re young and loving life, it’s easy to get trapped inside a bubble of contentment and happiness that can blind you to just how much pain and suffering there is out there.
Thus, when someone you love deeply gets sick, that bubble bursts and your entire life as you know it can come crashing down around you. When someone you love gets sick; whether it’s a parent or grandparent, a dear friend, a brother or sister it can make you feel as though you’re in freefall. You’ve been brought face to face with just how fragile and capricious life can be. You want to do the right thing. You want to help them and do what you can to guide them back on the path to wellness. You understand that you’re a vital part of their support network but at the same time you feel completely inadequate and unprepared. It’s not uncommon to feel helpless, powerless and impotent. You know that you have to stay strong for them but you don’t feel strong, nor are you sure how to show them the correct path because you don’t know what exactly that may be. It’s a colossal responsibility that would weigh heavily on even the strongest shoulders.
But you can do it… Because you’re amazing! And you’re stronger than you know.
Here are some guidelines which will help you to help someone you love when they are sick...
Help them to get the care that they need
All kinds of people and illnesses are different and so finding the correct care that they need can be challenging… Especially if they are resistant to treating their illnesses. There are some illnesses like addiction to illicit substances or alcohol which can make their victims extremely resistant to outside help and cause them to respond with hostility and even aggression.
As tempting as it may be to reciprocate and respond with indignation and anger, the only way in which you can respond in these circumstances is with love. Love is the most powerful force on the planet and if you keep your faith in it, it can work miracles.
Sometimes the best way to help is by reminding someone that your door is always open. That no matter what they feel, what they say or what they do, you’ll always be there for them. They may not want your help right now, and while that may hurt you, you recognize that it’s their decision and that you’ll be there when they change their minds.
There are some illnesses, however, which need specialist expert care and the sooner they get it, the better chance there is of them wither making a full recovery, or living happily and productively with their illness. If you love someone who suffers with Parkinson’s disease and/or dementia they may even need residential care so you should contact Parc Provence and appeal to them for some advice on how best to handle the situation. When you’ve identified the specific help and care that they need, you have a specific goal to work towards.
Just let them talk
Experiencing illness or receiving a diagnosis for a serious illness can be a huge emotional blow. The person you love will likely be experiencing a wide range of thoughts and emotions which are coming at them so hard and from so many different directions that it can be difficult to process. Sometimes talking is the most effective form of therapy. It allows them to get some perspective on their condition, address their fears and order their thoughts. Sometimes the most effective thing that you can do is just sit and listen.
Help them to look at the future in positive and practical terms. Avoid blanket optimism, however. Responding to their concerns with platitudes like “everything will be okay” can be counterproductive.
Guide them towards the practical
Whether we like it or not, whether we feel that we can face it or not, there are practical and logistical matters that must be attended to when someone gets sick. If you are diagnosed with a serious illness this can seem overwhelming and so the person you love will need some help handling the practical stuff.
They may not relish the idea. They probably won’t thank you for it. They may be actively resistant to it, but if you can guide them through it this can be an important and beneficial part of the healing process. Work out whether they will need to set up a power of attorney directive, ascertain whether you or anyone else can help out with making sure that the bills get paid or their pets get taken care of. For some, focusing on the logistical aspects and treating their illness as a project to be managed is a useful way of dealing with it. In any event, it’s important to take care of the practicalities.
Finally, remember that you need help and care too!
It’s okay, in fact necessary, to admit that you need help and support, too. You benefit absolutely nobody by burning yourself out and becoming emotionally and physically exhausted. Seek out the help and support that you need as well, whether it’s from a counselor or simply a trusted friend. The better shape you’re in emotionally and mentally, the better equipped you are to help others who need you.