When a loved one is ill

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I have a number of friends experiencing the stress of aging and/or ill loved ones. One said today that she didn't know what was wrong with her because she lost her temper.  I told her nothing was wrong with her; she simply is experiencing overload.

Having gone through the trauma of two ill parents, I know all too well what my friends are going through. Juggling a full-time job, taking the loved one to never-ending doctor apppointments, maintaining the home front, and in some cases, trying to write, can't be done indefinitely.  Moreover, the loved one is going through an emotional roller coaster of pain, uncertainty, anger and fear.  The person may even resent the caretaker as it's easier to focus their emotions on a closest target available.

Sooner or later a ball is dropped, words are said.  One feels guilty for feeling guilty.  The albatross of illness is overwhelming and there is no quick fix or easy answer.  My best advice is not to be hard on oneself.  We're all human and need to be kind to ourselves.  With my parents, I took to sitting outside, even for five minutes, and did nothing but sit.  Or curl up with a book for fifteen minutes before going to bed.  I tried to carve out a few precious moments that were mine alone.

I did break down several times but I always managed to get back up.  Even now, years later, I wonder at times if I had handled things this way or that way, whether I could have eked out a few more days of life for my parents, but I know that's just the insiduous guilt nipping at me.  I did the very best I could under the circumstances life threw at me, and that's what I tell my friends.  We're not perfect; we're human.  All any of us can do is the best we can in the moment, tell the person we love them, and let the guilt go.

If you have a loved one who is ill, {{hugs}} Carol  


Allison Chase said...

Lovely post, Carol, and so honest. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Sandra Madden said...

Beautifully said - a post I will hold on to and think about on difficult days. Thank you.