Caring For Each Other Through Illness
effect of a sudden onset of illness in a relationship has been
likened to a bereavement. Once the initial feelings of shock have
passed, there may be immense anger. There may also be feelings
of regret and guilt over what has not been done during earlier
years. Gradually, these feelings change into sadness and loss.
people feel they have to deal with these emotions alone, and may
become isolated and resentful. But when couples are able to talk
openly, it can be a time when they grow closer.
When an illness is diagnosed as terminal, the remaining time
together can be a mix of bittersweet moments. There's also often
a sense of urgency to make the most of every moment you have left.
couples find themselves slipping back to earlier feelings of intense
connection, but for others there can be a distressing feeling
of growing separateness. In some people, the knowledge that they'll
soon be alone creates the need to begin psychological and emotional
is usually completely unconscious and a natural response to try
to soften the blow of the inevitable ending.
From partner to patient
Some couples find that when a partner becomes a patient, the
relationship feels more like parent and child than equals. Finding
ways to adapt to a new model of partnership will help you to ensure
your relationship continues to be fulfilling.
important that you're both able to feel a sense of independence
and autonomy. The ability to do that will vary enormously depending
on your circumstances, and you may have to be creative and enlist
the support of others to make that possible.
communication at an adult level - avoiding slipping into childlike
exchanges - will also help to maintain a sense of equality within
* Talk regularly and openly
* Encourage times of autonomy - and times when your caring roles
can be reversed
* Be sensual through taste by trying new foods together
* Create a sensual atmosphere with candles and aromatherapy oils
* Enjoy physical intimacy with hand or foot massages, perhaps,
bathing together and lots of hugs
* Laugh together
Physical intimacy is an important part of most relationships.
Some couples think that when one of them is ill or has a disability,
they should give up their sex lives, but this needn't be the case.
Many couples enjoy finding new ways to be sensual together and
regaining physical intimacy. In fact, the increased creativity
required to fit around bodily limitations can make sex better
you experience sexual problems as a result of your condition or
medication, there are a wide range of medical interventions available.
Speak to your doctor about appropriate options.
can grow in sickness and in health if you both commit to sharing
your feelings (no matter how hard that may feel) and both learn
to adapt as circumstances change. And remember, even if you can't
be sexual together anymore you can still be sensual. Touch is
an essential part of being human, so take every opportunity to