Helping a Loved One Cope with a Diagnosis

Helping a Loved One Cope with a Diagnosis

Help a Loved one Cope after a Diagnosis

Senior woman at home pondering diagnosisHelping someone going through a crisis is never easy. We often find ourselves confused and frustrated because we don’t know what to say or how to help. We fumble for words or end up embarrassing ourselves and the aggrieved person while trying to be comforting. Things can get especially awkward when trying to comfort someone recently diagnosed with a serious illness.

If you know a friend or family member who has received a scary health diagnosis, here’s how to be helpful without making matters worse for them:

1. Understand which Stage of Grief They’re in

There are different stages of grief that people going through a crisis will cycle through. In time people usually go through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Depending on the mental strength of the diagnosed person and the severity of the illness, your friend or family member may go through some or all of these stages.

If someone is in denial of their illness, be there for the person as they slowly process through the information. Don’t force them to make any decisions. Those in anger are likely to push away your efforts or direct their anger towards someone, blaming them for the condition. Be patient while they’re complaining, rather than judge them. If they’re in the depression stage, be there for them but don’t push them to open themselves. The bargaining stage can often require a lot of patience, but it’s important that they feel supported. Finally, if they have reached acceptance, you may be able to start helping them to feel more comforted.

2. Seek Help from a Professional

You don’t have to go through the process alone. Sometimes, getting help from a professional can help your loved one gain an objective perspective. This is not only helpful for the patient but also everyone else affected by the news. Encourage the patient to write down their thoughts so that it’s easier for them to adjust to this new normal.

If the diagnosed person is elderly, encourage them to join a support group. Groups can help look for ways to reduce the stress related to the illness and manage the difficulties better.

3. Follow Their Lead

Discussing the illness can be uncomfortable, especially for someone diagnosed with something that’s highly stigmatized like HIV. An honest and open conversation can be helpful for all parties involved but follow their lead. If they do not want to discuss the illness, do not push them. Instead, talk to them when they’re ready. This can often relate to the stages of grief, and it’s important to be respectful to where your loved one is at in the coping process.

Above anything else, it is important to show them the diagnosis has no bearing on the relationship and that you see them as the same person before the diagnosis.

4. Prepare for Uncertainty

An illness brings with it an unnerving uncertainty. You do not know what the future holds, and in this confusion, you could easily lose track of things. Establishing a routine helps ensure stability. Although it is impossible to plan for everything, a home health aide from a registered in-home health care can be of great assistance. If you need help, contact Med1Care. Our home health care assistance will be more than happy to assist.

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