I call it a cloud. A storm cloud. A storm cloud filled with tragic events. This cloud of tragedy chose our house and the residents inside to reign its terror. It has hovered for months but this morning, there was a phone call with news that may loosen the grip of this fury. Just enough wind of information, perhaps more like a breeze, I am able to document a tip or two that I have found helpful in coping with this life altering event.
We all handle tragedy differently. Realize that. Period. Do NOT get distracted by others handling the situation differently than you. Be confident in yourself knowing you are as intelligent and capable as another. Remember, this happened to YOU and YOURS. No one knows your own life better than YOU even though they think they do!
Identify your needs. As care taker, voice your thoughts to yourself first and then to others, what you need and want. Maybe, even in writing. I needed space, time, and a voice. As an adult, with different life circumstances and being highly reflective in nature, I have noticed how I react to things. When something is not right, I go deep within. I need time to digest what is happening and I need a voice expressing to others how I am feeling. I go from being fairly private to being ultimately private. So, from the outside, it looks like I am alone and feeling lonely, an interpretation, but from within me, it is how I cope.
Stay true to your needs. And I am. Does it confuse others because I am not acting like they think I should? Yes. Does it seem like I am ungrateful? Probably. Does it give me space to think through all the new implications my life now has? Does it give me time to take care of the non-medical needs this new tragedy of a loved one has brought on? Does it give me voice when I am discussing the matter with the professionals in a way that I feel right, respectful, and comfortable? Yes. Stay true to your needs.
Offer a way others can help. Others do want to help. I am new to such tragic events and didn’t know how to suggest help. But, with the space and time to think about things, I now realize how others can help me. I have found that I really appreciate those little thoughtful notes asking about how I am doing. That I was in their thoughts. Just little one-liners asking if I could or wanted to chat. Giving me a voice. Any communication saying they hadn’t forgotten about me. As feeling equally affected, this is the support I need from them.
Seek the help of the Professionals and Resources around you. This is huge and when I began doing this, I could actually feel the ‘cloud’ shift. Listen carefully to those in the field, who you invited, and dealing specifically with the patient. Take their suggestions. Those who are in the field, who know the law of your locale, and who may guide you in emotional ways. I now have two case managers, a lawyer, a doctor following my health, and have found a support group for grief counseling. I cannot wait until the first session of counseling as I will listen to how others are coping. I will listen intently when others talk on issues that really bothered me in this journey. What did I miss that might have helped me? Why am I so sensitive to one thing but not to another? Things like that. I also have hired a painter who, through these horrible months, has painted the interior of the entire house giving it a fresh, beautiful welcoming look for the hopeful return of my loved one. And, I have done some of the painting to get my mind on something else.
Be patient. This is truly near impossible however, I have found it much more possible when I have my affairs in order such as taking care of the multitude of non-discussed responsibilities that are a consequence of what might be needed. The more I am on top of understanding the big picture, the more patient I can be towards who really needs my focus, of course, supporting and encouraging the one in need.
Plan a manageable life for yourself. My sick one is not local. Imagine that added stress. So, I have to plan a way to see him while managing what I call community living. Others may suggest a schedule or even demand what they think is right for you. Early on, I actually heard those words. Ha. I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to yourself as no one knows you as best as you.
Think of what is on your side. I do recognize what I have on my side. Things such as my health and wellness, fortitude, energy, and mostly the strong love I have for the patient. Oh, and did I mention knitting?
I take my knitting with me when I visit. Knitting creates happy conversations as well as takes my mind off my troubles. And, when the patient asks if I brought my knitting and says he likes that because it is like a part of home, you quietly sob without him noticing and realize it is serving the both of you. I haven’t had to battle with the weather these months in travel and I am physically able to drive. I take nothing for granted.
Hope is eternal.