Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hope for hurting parents

Hope for Hurting Parents of a Sick Child

There is nothing more devastating to a parent than to see your child suffer from a disease or serious illness. Whether a particular health issue presented itself before birth, upon delivery or years later, parents' grief, worry and discouragement over an ill child can at times be almost too much to bear.

The feelings of helplessness often seem overwhelming. If you could, you would change places with your child in an instant. And in a time where so much is focused on your child — as it should be — parents' lives can easily whirl out of control, with their own needs forgotten or suppressed.

With doctor appointments, second opinions, testing, trips to the pharmacy, updates to loved ones, and so on, there's not much down time left for you.

When you find yourself feeling stretched almost to the point of breaking, there are healthy ways to gather strength to cope, and in turn, reflect hope to your child.

  • Be honest. It's OK to grieve. It's OK to be angry. You need to be honest with God and yourself in order to work through the emotions that accompany a child's serious illness or special needs situation. But then channel those feelings in the right direction. Exercise out your frustrations. Journal your grief. Record your thoughts of love to your child through letters, scrapbooks or home videos. Talk with your spouse: Share your feelings and don't stop communicating.
  • Get educated. The Internet is an incredible tool you can use to learn more about your child's illness — but it can also induce incredible fear. It's best to not spend too much time researching. Learn what you can, but use discernment. Stick with official medical Web sites for information and case studies. These sites will direct you to other parents who know what you're going through or support groups you can lean on for encouragement.
  • Lean on others. You can't do it alone. You may try, but you and your child will suffer. Don't be afraid or too proud to receive help, support and encouragement from friends or family members. In fact, you ought to ask for it! Surround yourself with people who care and are willing to pitch in by babysitting, helping with housework, shopping for groceries or simply offering a listening ear. Sometimes, it can also be beneficial to talk with an objective person who can help you deal with the issues you're facing. Our staff of licensed Christian counselors is available to offer encouragement, as well as provide referrals to other professional counselors in your local area.
  • Be good to yourself. As any parent of a sick child knows, this is a very real dilemma. On the one hand, the focus needs to be on your child to help him maximize his health and abilities, get well, or endure. But on the other hand, your child needs you to be healthy, strong and in control. And you can only be this kind of model for your child if you take care of yourself by eating right, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. If you feel you don't have time to do this, eliminate other things from your life and make the time. Your mental, physical and spiritual health is critical to your child's health.
  • Remember to laugh. A child's illness is serious. That's why it's vital for you to help her find sweet relief by not taking every moment of the day too seriously. When your child sees you doing this, she will follow suit. Laughter is contagious and is a good medicine. It will make you both feel better.
  • Trust God. Do you believe everything happens for a reason? If you trust God, you can feel safe knowing that He is in control of your life and has His hand upon your entire family. The most critical way to cope with your child's illness is to surrender it all to God. Ask Him to help you trust Him to take care of your little one's life. He created your child, and He can heal and restore that precious body, too.
  • Whether you've been dealing with a child's illness for a long time or have recently received a devastating diagnosis for your young one, know that one of the best ways you can help your child is to learn to cope with courage.

    So, hang in there. While it's true that you may not be able to take away all of your child's pain and suffering, your love will continue to heal and nurture his heart.

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Wow Ricki, I guess you left me that book for a reason I have tears just reading this so I guess I have many many issues and all I DO IS STUFF IT AND KEEP ON TRUCKIN' I am sorry because the last thing I would ever want to do is hurt you anymore than you must feel at times already ...we will get through this together and with the help of Jesus. I am so very proud of you, I love you. Mommy