It happens in all families at one time or another. We are fragile when, when we least expect it, we are obliged to look after a loved one who has had an accident or is suffering from a disabling illness, or help the elderly in our family, whether temporary or permanent.
When a person falls seriously ill, the ideal is that it is a loved one who takes care of her. But it must also be recognized that assuming such a responsibility can be a real challenge: the day-to-day then suddenly takes a new turn, and one has no other choice in these cases than to leave one's comfort zone.
Anyone who spends his life caring for a loved one who needs it can quickly forget about his or her own physical and emotional needs.
To be or not to be
Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the horror of the Nazi Holocaust, said that in life, even in the worst moments, we can always "choose the way we live and face the different events that will come before us".
In other words, even if we are not always aware of it, we have the power to choose the turn that we want to give to the things that life puts in our path.
At the moment when we learn a news as bad as unexpected, we are often very affected, confused and shocked … and that's normal.
In such conditions, there are many things that will have to be learned to manage: a new life, the limits and the emotional whirlpool in which one finds oneself when one sees a seriously ill or critically ill loved one because of an accident. We can easily be afraid when we measure the extent of the change that has taken place in our daily lives.
However, once the shock is over and we have reached this new life, comes the moment to define our existential behavior. What are the options available to us?
• Do not accept: such behavior may give rise to feelings such as hatred, frustration, sadness or helplessness. Even if, under such conditions, it is normal to feel dejected and to do everything to resist the suffering, you must not resist for too long.
This could lead to chronic stress, as well as significant emotional damage that will affect health, but also the ability to take care of the other.
• Accept the situation and see it as a moral obligation: it would then be a superficial and unfinished acceptance, since one would be divided between love and duty. We would then assume the situation, but without really wanting it, and without putting all our heart into it; that would not be beneficial to anyone.
• Accept the situation and see it as an opportunity to get out of it more mature and stronger: it is the behavior that would be the wisest to adopt, because it would allow us to lighten our weight and remain courageous. If despite the difficulty of the situation, we manage to maintain an inner harmony, we can then transmit good waves to the person.
How to protect yourself?
When one devotes one's life to caring for a loved one who needs and cares for it, one can end up forgetting oneself and be completely drained of any physical force and / or emotional.
Here are some tips which, if you follow them, will allow you to limit the damage and to be able to continue to take care of a person in the best possible conditions:
• To be aware of its limits: it must be borne in mind that we are not superhuman, and therefore we can not do everything.
• Ask for material and emotional help as soon as the need arises: Do not hesitate to ask family or friends and ask them to take a break by taking care of the patient or by doing some shopping in our place.
And emotionally, you have to know "empty your bag" by trusting someone who listens to us with compassion, or just spending time with someone who makes us laugh and allows us to think of something else.
• Surround yourself with a team of competent professionals such as doctors, nurses and therapists worthy of our trust and with human qualities in order to ensure that the patient is in good hands.
• Consult a psychologist may be a good option, since it allows us to have an objective space to break down our emotions and reflect on what is happening.
• Rediscover spirituality, whatever our beliefsas a source of inspiration and transcendence that can help us overcome difficult moments, find meaning in the situation and constantly renew ourselves.
Nothing happens at random; we must learn from each situation we are faced with.
Perhaps we will finally discover a great lesson in life by caring for a loved one who needs it. In these conditions, not only are we dedicated to taking care of others, but we also learn to take care of ourselves.