Issues in Caring

If you look after someone, whether full-time or part-time, it is not easy. You will need to consider a lot of things. You will also need to learn a lot of things.

Here we provide information and advice on how to care for someone who is 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.

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.

Family Conflict in Caring

Caring for someone who is dying can be complex. You may be a family member who has taken on this role. You could be a friend or a neighbour who is helping out but may feel like part of the family. You will spend a lot of time with the person who is ill. You will find out a lot of information about them and will often talk to health professionals.

This may not be well accepted by the family. They may not always live nearby and be able to provide care themselves. They may not realise how much you do for the person who is ill.

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.

Sometimes family members disagree with care directives or decisions. This can be hard if they are not directly involved but want to give advice. Sometimes this is a bigger communication problem within the family. Families are not always close. If this is happening to you, talk to a health professional about a family meeting. This can help to get everyone together to talk about what is happening.


Last updated 16 June 2021