There are few things more challenging in life than dealing with a loved one’s chronic illness. Nowhere in school do we learn how to navigate such a delicate situation, and little in life prepares us for the unique challenges involved. While well-meaning friends are quick to offer advice, rarely is their insight astute enough to alleviate our emotional suffering. Professional grief counseling services can work wonders for the heart and soul—but, in the immediate moment, the following advice may also prove helpful:
Practice acceptance. Rather than rebelling against reality, acknowledge your situation and accept that it is your task to get through it. Rather than looking at your loved one’s illness as a problem, look at it as a challenge. This reframing might help you lean into the situation with a different mindset.
Lean on love. Remind yourself of the tremendous luck you’ve had just being able to love the person who is suffering. After all, the situation would not be so distressing if it were not for the depth of this love. Celebrate the time you’ve had together, and find happiness in the moments you still share, and the memories you will cherish forever.
Stay present in the moment. Appreciate the past, but do not dwell on it. Rather, approach each day as a gift and focus on what you can do to make the most of it. Staying present and available—in the moment—with your loved one will ensure that your final memories are beloved.
Set a schedule, and stick to it. Dealing with a loved one’s chronic illness can be all-consuming, and can lead you to ignore other essential tasks. Schedule your day so that you don’t neglect work duties or other critical obligations. Let your loved one know when you will be available for them, and stick to your word—both for you and for them. Taking care of your responsibilities in tandem with taking care of your loved one will prevent your stress levels from rising any higher than they already might be.
Practice self care. Make time to sleep, exercise, eat well, and attend to your hobbies while caring for your loved one. Not only is good health a powerful guard against anxiety and depression, it is essential for ensuring that the time you have to offer your loved one is of quality. Your loved one may be chronically ill—but he or she doesn’t want to see you unwell, too!
Delicately address financial and estate planning concerns. While personal care and attention always takes precedence over financial matters, ensuring that your loved one’s finances are in order—and that they have organized the necessary estate planning documents in consultation with an attorney—is an important part of being there for your ill loved one. It may be uncomfortable to discuss, but it can also help your loved one gain peace of mind knowing that their estate and finances are in perfect order. Ask your loved one about the following estate planning document: HIPPA release, a living will, medical and financial powers of attorney, and perhaps a revocable trust. Be sure to consult with an estate planning attorney to discuss the particulars of your loved one’s case.
Our team is happy to guide you and your loved one in the right direction—call our office, or complete the brief form at the bottom of this page to get in touch with our experienced legal team.