Terrible things happen in life. One of them is a serious illness of the close person. The news of a serious, possibly incurable, disease covers everything around with a black cloud and prevents you from breathing freely. Perhaps, there is a long period of hospitals ahead, painful medical procedures, operations or getting used to life with the loss of some important body functions (vision, hearing) – it changes life for the patient, and for people close to him.
Is there any way to help in this situation? Yes. Despite the fact that it’s not in your power to remove the illness or suffering of a dear person, knowing mechanism by which psychological reactions occur, it’s possible to ease his suffering.
There are several stages of accepting the disease and on each of them the help will be different.
How to help another person in ill:
Stage of shock. Denial. «It’s impossible! It’s not true! ».
- give the time to the close person to get used to new information, to realize it;
- be next to him, track the emotional reactions of the close person – shock can be replaced by another, violent and unpredictable reaction.
Stage of aggression and protest. “Why me?”
- give the patient the opportunity to speak out, to express his heavy feelings: pain, fear, indignation, perturbation. Remember that it directed to the fate, not to you or somebody else;
- show that you understand his worries, be in emotional contact with him as much as possible. At this moment a person really needs support!;
- when the flow of emotions fades, help to cope with an anger – offer to draw or model his worries, if it’s appropriate;
The bargaining stage. “I promise… Just let it…” Attempts to negotiate with fate.
- maintain the faith in the best: provide as much positive information as possible; tell the history of the disease with happy end, offer to watch together inspiring films or read books;
- important: make sure that the belief in miracle doesn’t prevent qualified treatment and your beloved person doesn’t give up the fight against the disease;
The stage of depression. “How did I deserve it?” . Loss of hope.
- don’t leave a person alone with his worries, be next to him, support, talk about what you feel;
- if the prognosis is disappointing, don’t try to deceive, instill in overly optimistic moods – otherwise a person will lock himself, feeling that he isn’t understood;
- provide a sick person with the opportunity to communicate with those people he wants to interact, help to make plans for every day, organize simple spare time;
- offer to go to group therapy, in some cases it may be useful, if the depression is too pronounced – consult with a doctor, perhaps, antidepressants will be prescribed;
- help with simple daily things and continue to share your support, time, communication.
- to use “motivating” phrases from the category: “Pull yourself together! “Keep your head up! “Keep your chin up! “it’s only depressing for a person who is unable to “`pull himself together”;
- to try to ignore the realities and, despite the negative predictions of doctors, to convince the close person that he will recover soon;
How to help yourself:
The family members’ worries of a seriously ill person are in tune with the worries of the patient – that is, the same stages and feelings are relevant.
- remember that the whole range of feelings that rages inside you: anger, pain, fear, spite, fault – this is an adequate response to the situation – it’s normal;
- find an opportunity to express heavy feelings: share them with a friend, cry, allow yourself to get angry and splash out the anger by beating the pillow or shouting;
- if the feelings are unbearable and you don’t know what to do with them – ask for help from a specialist; The illness of the close person can actualize your own old wounds (injuries) and fears;
- take care of yourself: rest, switching to another activity, walks, regular sleep, proper nutrition, daily routine. If you are a resource for another person, then your reserves of life’s energy must be replenished;
- if the relationship with your close person is complicated, it’s not necessary to portray sincerity and full acceptance through force, it’s better to keep the relationship neutral;
- determine what in this situation you can really do for the close ill person , and what is not in your power to change, realize the boundaries of your responsibility;
- ask for help: sometimes it means to hire a nurse, to ask your close people for specific actions. Don’t burden yourself so as not to break down under the heaviness