It is inevitable. At one point in time your loved one will become ill. You will become ill. This could be a short-term illness, an injury that will take time to heal, a chronic illness that needs to be managed over a lifetime, or a life-threatening disease. When someone gets ill, your relationship is immediately challenged. Some of these challenges include:
- Abrupt changes in roles and responsibilities
- Financial stressors and demands
- Added responsibilities for caregivers
- Guilt, stress, fear, pain, helplessness, anger, and frustration for the person dealing with the illness
- Guilt, stress, fear, resentment, anger, and helplessness for the caregiver
- Dealing with loss
It is so important to appreciate how much change and demands are placed upon everyone when someone in your family is dealing with an illness. For mild and temporary illnesses and injuries, the adjustments may be handled with more ease. Long-term and life-threatening illnesses and injuries require a strategy for healing and well-being. Here are some guidelines and tips to consider as you make necessary adjustments to the new circumstances in your lives.
- Get support! Enlist family, friends, clergy, and community.
- Don’t isolate yourself or feel like you need to do it all. This is not the time to be a martyr or withdraw.
- Make financial adjustments as necessary. Start to plan for the long haul if this is a long-term illness.
- Acknowledge and deal with all the losses that come along with the health crisis.
- Get counseling or advocacy if needed. Again, utilize support and don’t do it alone.
- Be patient. It takes time to contend with all the changes in roles, emotions, and added demands and responsibilities.
Dealing with a serious or long-term illness within the family can cause tremendous stress on your relationships. It is not uncommon for marriages to end or suffer when health crises occur. Remember, this is an opportunity to learn something new about yourself and the people you love. This is an opportunity to experience more love and intimacy, not less. How you navigate these waters will have a direct impact on how you come out the other end. If you and a loved one are struggling with an illness, don’t hesitate to reach out. I’m here to help. I want you to have the best possible outcome when it comes to strengthening your relationship and bond.
Please share your story with our community. This is how we learn and grow from one another.
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com