Reaching out to someone you love who’s unwell

Couple hug

It’s something that happens to us or to someone close. We all have brushes with mortality in one way or another, and while this can prompt us to lead a healthier lifestyle, not everybody emerges from it. While there is an increasing amount of debilitating illnesses out there, sometimes we don’t know how to handle it, especially when there’s someone so close to us suffering. What do we do? Do we spend every waking moment with them, or do we ignore the issue so they can carry on with a sense of normality? How do we reach out to someone close to us that’s not well?

Don’t Ignore The Issue

Some people believe in the stiff upper lip approach, and carrying on as if everything is normal. Here is a surprise, it is not normal! If your friend has such a debilitating illness that they can’t even get out of bed, it’s impossible to ignore the issue. Likewise, when you see them you may not know how to broach the subject, and you think that not bringing it up helps in some way. Instead of skirting around the problem, addressing it is confronting the elephant in the room. Sometimes we avoid discussing the issue because we don’t like to come to terms with the truth, but we have to face it eventually.

Ask Them What They Need (Even If They Don’t Know)

There is a fine line between offering everything you think they need and overdoing it. Sometimes they will need the little things that they’re not able to do normally, so you can go to the shops, make their food, and so forth. And it’s important to offer your help, but you can’t make them feel like they need to wait on you. This may hammer home the fact that they are unable to do things independently. Open and honest communication upfront is the best thing, and even if they don’t know what they want, you know them well enough to bring them some food, or give the kitchen a quick wipe down.

You Don’t Have To Be There 24/7

Someone close to us is unwell, and so we can feel that we’ve got to bend over backwards and be there all of the time. Firstly, this is impossible, and secondly, they don’t want you to be there 24/7. They know you’ve got your own life to lead, and it’s all about finding that balance where they are happy, but you don’t feel guilty. We can worry about them a lot, but we can reach out to them in other ways when we’ve got other things that we need to sort out. After all, we’ve got to go to work, and so we can just send them a text message to tell them we’re thinking about them. As long as they know we are there for them, and that in their hour of need we will be there, this is what matters. Sometimes, a little gift is a nice thing to cheer them up, especially if they’ve been very low recently. It doesn’t have to be anything major, you can order some flowers online to be delivered to them and it will brighten up their day, or you could hand deliver their favourite meal, some DVDs, and just keep them company while they’re going through a rough time. You don’t have to be there 24/7, and you cannot.

Change The Topic

Going through a bad time means having to address the problems, but at the same time, we don’t want to make them focus on this all the time either. If someone’s unable to get out of bed, then reminding them of this isn’t particularly healthy, and it can even spiral into an even lower mood. What’s the solution? Gossip! Gossip that’s funny, scandalous and downright rude provides a change of topic from what’s going on can offer some light relief. Humour is underappreciated in emotionally dark times. Some people like gallows humour, others just want to have a damn good laugh because they haven’t for so long. Change the topic, mix it up, and make it interesting. If you have a friend that’s got a very bad illness, they can also be bored out of their skull. Sat in the same place for weeks or months on end, whether it’s going through treatment, or just recovering can be mentally draining because of the boredom.

Give Them All The Love

Yes, they may know deep down that you love them no matter what, but tell them for god’s sake! They need it now more than ever. Sometimes we’re not very forward in communicating how we feel and it’s a much-underestimated emotion, especially when someone needs all the strength they can get. By telling them that you love them can do wonders for the frame of mind. This may be the thing that turns the tide. Finally, they feel they have a little bit of strength to do what they want, and while this may sound like some hippie nonsense, scientifically speaking, mind over matter is very important. Tell them you love them, and do it now.

When are we looking after someone, or we’re just trying to be there for them, it can be emotionally draining for us. Focusing all of your energies on helping them can deplete you of yours. We have to remember that we’ve got to make some time for ourselves. Burnout is a very common problem, and we can push it to one side because we’re not the ones suffering, but we still have to look after ourselves at the same time. Someone we love dearly is unwell, and this can cause a lot of worry and anxiety. We don’t know what’s going to happen to them, and so we can feel that we’ve got to be there for them all of the time and provide as much care and support as possible, but we’re not the only person feeling like this. Be sure to share the duties. And for many people, reaching out is all that matters.