Support for Self
Let’s face it, at one time or another during our lifetime, cancer will become a factor. Be it ourselves or someone we love, cancer touches everyone.
(Dealing with your own emotional pain) At the time of diagnosis, all attentions from medical staff, family members and friends is directed toward the patient—-naturally because she has the breast/cervical cancer. You may be feeling overwhelmed by expectations from yourself and others, to be strong and emotionally supportive for your loved one. As a support person, you, too, will find that your own emotions will need to be addressed.
Grieving your loss
ls a natural and helpful way for healing to begin. However, many find it difficult to openly express these feelings of grief to others for fear that they may appear “weak” or “not in control”. The opposite is true. These feelings show that you are very much attuned to what is occurring in your life. Expressing feelings honestly will not weaken your relationship but will strengthen it. Expressing your feelings to others helps reduce the intensity of your emotions. ” The experience of grief is not mental illness –it just feels that way sometimes” At times you may feel a complete loss of control over life as you once knew it. At times you may feel as if you are “losing it” mentally. This feeling is common and is a part of working through a new life crisis.
Holding back emotions
Many support partners try to hold back their deep emotional pain and avoid crying in front of anyone. This is not helpful for you or the patient. Tears do not signal a “loss of control” but are more likely to convey the solidarity you feel with her. Crying is a sign that you are dealing with your emotions in a perfectly healthy and natural way.
Seeing your tears will often give her the unspoken permission to share her own intense feelings and fears with you, knowing that you are very much in tune with her emotional pain.
Crying is therapeutic. After a good cry, we feel a sense of emotional release. It is similar to a rain that leaves the air clear and clean when it is over. If you have forced yourself to be brave and hold back your tears, now is the time to emotionally free yourself. Tears are signs that you are in touch with reality and are dealing with the losses that a crisis brings.
Finding your support
As the primary support person, you will find it helpful to identify someone you can talk to who understands exactly what you are feeling. This person could be a friend, family member, professional counselor or pastor. You need someone to whom you can pour out all of your fears, anxieties and emotions, knowing that you will not be judged but will be offered emotional support and guidance. lt often comes as a surprise that many of the people closest to you don’t understand when you try to share. They have never had to deal with what you are going through, and they feel the best way they can help is to cheer you up or help you get your mind off your problems.
Cancer treatment centers often offer support services, such as caregiver support groups, social workers, chaplains and counselors, who are trained to help you adjust and perform in your new role of cancer patient support.
Professional counselors are skilled at crisis intervention and can identify your existing strengths and coping skills. They can help you sort out your fears and concerns and find helpful ways to face the decisions ahead. You will find that counselling professionals act as a “safe place” and allow you to say anything you think or feel without upsetting anyone.