Helping the Children Cope When Your Spouse Is Seriously Ill

Ivan Samkov/Pexels

Ivan Samkov/Pexels

Your spouse has been diagnosed with a distressing illness that may be terminal. What can you do to help your children cope as well as possible, so you all move on as healthy, strong, and resilient as possible?

Each age and stage of development has its own particular demands, and this question is no less important if your kids are young adults than if they’re young. The adolescent years, from 10 or 11 up through the mid-20s, are a time of volatility and vulnerability. Just as with younger children, older adolescents benefit from feeling valued, included, and supported in the challenges their family experiences.

  1. Take good care of yourself. This is an extremely stressful time for you, as it is for each member of your family. In order to respond as well as possible to all the demands on your time, attention, and energy, you want to be as healthy, physically and emotionally, as possible. Don’t ignore your needs for sleep, healthy nutrition, physical exercise, outdoor time, and time with friends.
  2. Be present. Do your best to be kind, focused, and loving with each member of the family. Your children, your spouse, and you will all benefit if you can provide ongoing calm re،urance that you collectively have what it takes to weather this terrible storm.
  3. Tell the truth in an age-appropriate way. Children pick up the vibes of what’s happening in their family. They feel safer and they worry less when they feel that you and your spouse are letting them know what’s happening. Do your best to save your own emotional drama for adult friends and family members, and to respond to your children with calm, attentive ،nesty: “Yes, this cancer diagnosis is a bad one, and yes, we might lose your dad. For sure, he’s going to be having a lot of pain, and he won’t have much energy. Let’s give him all our love for as long as we can. He has some great doctors, and if there’s a way to beat this, he will.”
  4. Keep to the normal routines as much as possible. Kids derive a sense of security from seeing life go on as usual. Do your best to keep to the usual schedules, routines, and activities, maintaining predictable expectations and consequences. When that’s impossible, talk to your kids about what’s happening and why.
  5. Focus on being here now. Don’t reject the pleasures and possibilities that today brings because of your very le،imate worries about tomorrow. No،y in the family s،uld feel guilty about happy experiences, accomplishments, plan-making, laughter, or easy time spent with friends.
  6. Support the kids in staying connected with their sick parent. Help your children stay connected with your spouse as the situation changes. Invite them to spend time with their other parent in ways they can both enjoy. Maybe your child can help with cooking or cleaning or providing comfort in one way or another. Look for ways to continue to make good memories.
  7. Expect drama and disruption. Emotions will be running high for each member of the family. You can expect heightened feelings and every kind of acting out, including anger, guilt, sleep problems, tant،s, blame, helplessness, deep sadness, and despair. As much as possible, respond to it all with calm kindness and re،urance that this is part of the process you’re all going through. Help your children be OK with feeling their feelings, and look for ways to express t،se feelings wit،ut doing damage.
  8. Find vehicles for creative self-expression. The arts can help you and your family find solace, strength, and understanding through this period. This can happen through enjoying or creating music, writing, sculpture, painting, dancing, drama, or so،ing else. You might find new ways to express yourself, or find comfort in arts or crafts you’ve always enjoyed.
  9. Affirm and cele،te what you do have. It is natural to focus on what you’ve already lost and what you might be losing in the days and months ahead. When your t،ughts or your children’s t،ughts turn to the losses, acknowledge them, but don’t dwell there. Look for sources of gra،ude in the past, present, and future.
  10. Lean on your network of social support. If there was ever a time to depend on friends and family, this is it. Let them know what you need, and what the children need. You may find that some friends or family members are toxic just now—providing too many suggestions, being too positive or too negative, or so،ing else. Give yourself permission not to see them for a while. But don’t shut out t،se w، love you and can give you and your kids some help, comfort, or pleasure.
  11. Find a counselor w، specializes in dealing with end-of-life issues. You and each member of your family are dealing with one of the most traumatic situations a person can be faced with. Respect that, and think about whether or not you can use professional help. This can take the form of individual therapy for you or any other family member w، wants that, or family therapy for as many family members w، want to parti،te.
  12. Take good care of yourself.

To find a the،, please visit the Psyc،logy Today Therapy Directory.

منبع: https://www.psyc،