The process of accompanying someone who is ill is never easy, but it can be even more complicated when this person is our partner. How to better cope with this harsh reality? Here are some guidelines.
Coping with an illness is not only difficult for those who suffer from it, but for those who are around and especially for the couple. Especially if the ailment is of long duration, an imbalance occurs within the couple that will have to deal with a new logistics and a constant swing of emotions that will require frank communication and a good dose of self-knowledge.
Faced with this harsh circumstance:
- The roles are transformed.
- The fear of losing the other, of death, is confronted.
- The responsibility of caring is upheld, which can trigger a painful internal and external struggle filled with guilt.
9 THINGS WE CAN DO TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION
Although a priori we all tend to believe that it is the patient who has priority, the caregiver also suffers, faces an unwanted change, makes an effort and has its limitations. In extreme cases, some are simply unable to bear the responsibility and fear of death that comes with caring for someone who is sick. And it is not always for lack of love.
Thus, when faced with a diagnosis of a couple’s illness, to cope with the situation, the caregiver must take these nine points into account:
- 1. It is important to get the necessary logistics
It is essential that the patient is cared for, but in such a way that, if possible, it is not always the partner who performs all the tasks. If there are no financial resources, you can turn to the family or friends network so that the burden does not always fall on the same person.
- 2. We must be prepared to manage emotions
It is the most important thing in the whole process. The first thing that will appear before the diagnosis is denial as a defense mechanism against reality. This denial will have different forms of expression: some will ensure that nothing will change, others will feel that love will do everything, but it will not be the case if there is not a high degree of commitment or there is not good communication within the couple.
- 3. It will be necessary to adapt to a variable state of mind
Feelings throughout the course of the illness will often vary and it is important to normalize negative emotions such as sadness, helplessness, anger, anxiety, and guilt. There may also be moments of great intimacy in the couple, of greater proximity and complicity as well as feelings of gratitude for what has been received and satisfaction for feeling useful and discovering skills that were unknown.
- 4. It is important to locate the voltage sources
It is important for both of you to be aware of the situations that generate more tension: for example the doctor’s visit, the result of new tests, the arrival of visits, excess fatigue, etc. Identifying them will help to better manage the emotions that they generate in the couple and will avoid arguments.
- 5. Avoid blaming yourself and blaming yourself
Guilt does not help to do things better and it is important to free oneself from it internally and instead of accusing the other to speak from what one feels and would like asking directly without manipulation.
- 6. You have to look for new forms of pleasure
For both members of the couple, either jointly or individually, reserve a space for leisure and pleasure or find what would help to handle the situation more comfortably. If it is possible to go out to dinner together alone, go on getaways, share a movie, sunbathe, admire a landscape, find new sources of enjoyment, no matter how simple and straightforward they may be. The question, if you were free, if you weren’t sick, what would you do help? To find out what we need.
- 7. Talking about fear is good
It is also advisable to share within the couple the fears that the situation and the disease arouse: the fear of not knowing how to educate only the children, the fear of lack of money, the fear of death, the fear of pain. Everything This will make each member of the couple find comfort in the other, feel less alone and form a united team in the face of adversity.
- 8. Remember to reserve spaces of solitude
Between abandoning and being accompanying all the time there is a middle path that is also important to find so that the patient does not feel harassed and the caregiver overwhelmed. The solitary spaces will give each one time to carry out an individual process that cannot be done as a couple because each one lives a personal situation that represents different things. This will also make it easier for each member of the couple to regain their individuality and role when the illness ends.
- 9. We must promote independence
Maintaining autonomy and not promoting dependency is another pillar for a healthy relationship as a couple that should also be taken into account in this situation.
IT IS NOT WORTH CARING WITHOUT CARING
Although there may be exceptions, the truth is that, in general, the caregiver feels obliged to give without receiving anything in return to the point that in some cases he loses himself. It may also be the case that he takes care of the meaning of his life by creating an infinite debt for the other, something that according to Hellinger can be the cause of the couple’s breakup.
To give in the most balanced way possible in such a difficult situation, the caregiver, as far as possible, should reserve spaces for himself / herself that allow them to regain strength and preserve their energy and individuality. This is the difference between caring for someone you love and caring for an identity.
To achieve this, you will have to overcome the feeling of guilt that will lurk throughout the entire process. It will appear when you feel so tired that you may want everything to end one way or another in order to let go. It will also arise when the caregiver escapes to escape or do something for pleasure or when he thinks that the situation is overwhelming him, especially if there is the burden of raising children alone.
This guilt does not help to make things better, quite the opposite. It is a source of torture added to an already complicated situation. Whenever possible, the caregiver should avoid it and practice a healthy egoism that will make it easier for them to nourish themselves to give. He cannot give who does not have.
It is human that those who care are invaded by mixed feelings and at times feel incapable of assuming what is coming, others are angry with life or are happy to be useful and even essential. Both anger with the situation and with the sick person must be normalized because both go through a process of mourning for a life that was and is no longer.
Thus, it must be taken into account that, especially at the beginning of the disease, a period of denial is experienced in which what is happening is denied and anger appears because of not being able to do the same thing that was done together.
LEARN TO ACCEPT
Each person’s capacity for frustration will make this grief difficult or easier. There are men and also some women – who will find it particularly difficult to confront the pain of suddenly losing their normality and renouncing their ideals and desires due to the illness of the other.
In the same way that today’s society invites us to avoid pain and pursue constant happiness, it does not teach us to face situations that we cannot control, nor does it show us how to resolve the traumas that this situation can confront us by opening overflowing wounds.
To facilitate the acceptance process, it is advisable to ask for help from the environment, professionals and go to groups of relatives of patients who are in a similar situation and find spaces where the caregiver can express what they are feeling during the accompaniment.
This will also make it easier for the couple to share their emotions more frankly and spontaneously and make everything more bearable for both of them and, therefore, neither of them feel alone.
If the communication in the couple was good and sincere before the disease, this step will be easier than for those couples who no longer had quality intimacy before. And it is that when one of the members falls ill, all the problems of the couple are usually amplified.