When Someone You Care About is Seriously Ill

It is normal to experience intense feelings when someone close to you is seriously ill. It can be a very confusing time. It may present you with many challenges. It is natural that you may start to grieve your loss even before the person has died. This may cause you to become quite numb. You may also feel extremely or unusually vulnerable or emotional.

These feelings can be difficult to describe. Caring for, or about, someone who is seriously ill can arouse deep feelings of compassion. This can be for their physical situation as well as for their pain and suffering. You may feel a sense of helplessness at not being able to make it better. These feelings are quite natural and normal.

Family and friends often want to be around. They may find their feelings and emotions overwhelming. They may turn to you for emotional support. Their needs may not be something that you can deal with. This is especially true if you are focused on the caring role.

Equally, you may want to share your feelings with family and friends. This may provide relief and a sense of calm. There are also times when this may not be true.

Families do not always get on well together. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes there may have been unresolved problems for years. It can affect the way people feel. It can affect the way people behave. These long-standing problems may not change even now. People may not feel able to talk about it with those involved. For others though, this can be an opportunity for forgiveness. Many can feel a sense of peace by resolving some matters. This can also be true when making amends and/or mending friendships.

The depth of emotion aroused in these situations can make you seek different ways of coping. You may find periods of silence and reflection important. Music may soothe and calm. You might find a great need to be close to those you love, or prefer to withdraw into yourself. You may also find physical work or exercise provides an outlet. You may also not be able to face what is happening and want to escape.

There is no right or wrong answer, only what is right for each person. All of these responses are normal and natural.

There are counselling and support services available for carers. Call 1800 242 636 for advice and information about services close to you.

Last updated 24 January 2017