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  • Writer's pictureKatherine West


Updated: Aug 30, 2021

By Kate West

How Illness May Affect The People Around You.

How do people who suddenly become ill feel when their friends and family are not able to cope with what they are going through? Often all parties concerned are unable to talk about how they are feeling?

People can feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of caring for another person who is unwell. The relationship can become mysteriously fraught and dramatic. People can want what is best for the person suffering but don’t always know what to do about it. This dilemma can illicit procrastination. Hence nothing gets done and dialogue is much reduced when it really needs to increase. Relationships can be severely weakened.

In some cases its the person who is ill who remains strongest throughout an illness. They need to get better and need things in place. However family and friends can sometimes start to “unravel” and “go into hiding” as previously outlined. Hence the sufferer may, all too soon, feel pretty unsupported in their “hour of need”.

In fact the family or friends in question are not consciously “in hiding”, They themselves may be experiencing shock. They may feel that they could be losing someone really close to them. This may bring up confused emotions. Perhaps memories of losing someone in the past prevents them from “showing up” in the present? Memories can sometimes drag us backwards into the past where nothing can be altered anyway.

I have experienced these patterns both personally and whilst working in the care industry. I can see both sides of the story. I have often chatted with family members in order to help them through their difficulties. They know that they need to be strong and supportive for the one that is going through the illness but find it very difficult to do so. Fear is a major driving factor here.

You too may be familiar with fear of illness and the responsibility that sometime comes in dealing with it. This is a pretty normal set of emotions. None of us are immune and its the “not knowing” what the outcome will be that puts us into a cycle of thoughts and further feelings that can be very distressing. It is possible that we can suffer our own trauma and become “emotionally retarded” for a period. As I have stressed before, this can detract from being supportive to the person who is ill.

But here’s the thing. We need to monitor our own thoughts and feelings (always is best !) to see if they are serving us and our fellows well. For instance feeling sorry for oneself serves no-one. Similarly fear provokes a whole lot more bad than good. What then is to be done ?

In my career as a Carer, it was often the case that when all parties concerned got together and openly talked, burdens seemed to lighten. Of course honesty and admission of fears were critical factors in this. There is an old saying, “a burden shared is a burden halved” and this would appear to be fairly accurate. So I would advise that you look within yourself when someone around you becomes ill. Feel into whether its the illness or the assumed responsibility that are causing you discomfort. Check your thoughts and feelings and express your discomfort rather than bottling it up.

Examination of whether or not thoughts and feelings serve you is key. Feel the change.

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