Caring for a Child with a Chronic Illness (Part 4)

Managing a child with a chronic illness can be a demanding ordeal. Learn why pushing through feelings of anger and frustration are so important.

Meet Dr. Wirtz.

When we face a situation which we can’t change or a disease that can’t be cured the notion of coping becomes meaningful. In these scenarios we are challenged to make the most useful adaptations or adjustments that we possibly can and often those adjustments take place in the way the situation is thought about. Not surprisingly, there are many ways that disease may be viewed and many angles from which to approach coping with it. Although it might sound a little gloomy, it actually helps if we can start with the understanding that there is no escaping disease. Its existence and our susceptibility to it are a fact of life from the moment we are born until the day we die.

However, in the “…..happily ever after” script, children don’t suffer life threatening disease or chronic conditions. That’s just not how the story is supposed to go! This is where the notion of the unfairness of the situation can become the breeding ground for anger, envy, and isolation from those with healthy children. You can see how damaging this could be to your relationships with family and friends and how no one benefits from acting on any of those emotional experiences. A quote that I have always attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson goes something like this - “Life is not a matter of being dealt a good hand but playing a poor hand well” (feel free to correct me on source and quotation ….sorry, Mr. Stevenson!)

To cling to feelings of unfairness, anger, and envy will surely prevent you from being able to play well the hand you and your child have been dealt. It will also make it nearly impossible for you to genuinely respond in a healthy, adaptive way to those feelings when they begin to emerge in your child. Therefore, you have to challenge the notion that this is unfair and allow yourself to move through the anger and envy.

Before I move on I want to make sure that you understand what I’m trying to say in the paragraph above. Experiencing the emotions described above is quite normal! Getting stuck there is not. If you can not seem to move through those feelings you may need to get some help to find out where you are stuck and identify some ways to free yourself. More often than not when we get stuck there is more to our emotional story than we are aware of or have been able to express.

Next week I’ll move on to address some of the other emotions that can often arise and create trouble for you and your child.

Read Part Five in this series by Dr. Wirtz

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