What to Do When a Loved One is Diagnosed

We all hope nothing bad will happen to us. We hope and pray that we’ll pass through our lives diagnosis free. Being diagnosed with a disease can be discouraging, but learning that a loved one has been diagnosed can be just as bad, if not worse. When something bad happens to us, we know how brave we can be. When we can’t see into their mind, we worry about our loved one and whether they’ll be able to cope.

While the diagnosis of a loved one is terrible news, there are steps you can take to make this season better both for you and your family member. You don’t have to face this new time without a plan, or without insight into how to help. Here are a few ways to make life better for both of you following a diagnosis.

Educate Yourself

From cancer to chiari, there are many difficult diagnoses your loved one might have received. You might know quite a bit, or you might know nothing, but either way, take action to educate yourself about their disease. Understand what symptoms they can expect, and what treatment looks like. Learn about cancer care or the kinds of surgeries your loved one may need to undergo.

Offer to Help

Your loved one may turn down your offers for assistance, but remind them that you’re there if they need you. Don’t push, and be ready for them to say no. If they do accept your help, offer to clean for them, or drive them to appointments or surgeries. Offer to be there when they consult the neurosurgeon. Be available, but remember to give your loved one space.

Don’t Give Advice

Especially if your loved one is a younger sibling or adult child, you may be tempted to offer them advice. While your intentions are only good, advice from a non-medical professional can be aggravating and even insulting during this troubling time. Remember that ultimately, your loved one’s treatment decisions are down to them.

Stay Normal

When it comes to discussing the grief or anger your loved one’s diagnosis might bring, allow them to lead. Take your cues from them, and only discuss the deeper side of the disease when they feel ready. Remember to listen well, with no plan to give advice, but simply be there for them, to hear how they’re feeling. It’s not your job to fix their feelings; it’s your job to hear them. When you act as normal as possible with your loved one, it can help them feel refreshed, as though life hasn’t been totally overturned.

Meet Your Own Needs

You may be tempted to make this season only about your loved one, but you’ll be experiencing grief and fear as well. If your loved one is a spouse, or someone else who regularly provided your emotional support, you will need to seek new channels. While you can still be there for each other, the real grief and fears you experience during this time should be expressed to a new person who you trust and can rely on.

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