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Emotional Therapy for the Whole Family

By Edited Dec 4, 2015 0 0

Help for the whole family-how emotional therapy plays an important role in managing a child's illness. My colon cancer wasn't just my disease. It was my family's disease. At age seven, my diagnosis turned my "normal" family upside down. The middle child was sick, which meant my older brother and younger sister got the short end of the stick the majority of the time. It wasn't their fault, or anyone's fault, but that's what happens to a family who has a sick child. As I reflect back on my childhood now-memories steeped with more hospitals stays than I want to remember-all I knew was that I wanted to be a normal kid. For my siblings, their lives naturally filled with resentment toward me and toward my illness because of the attention I received-and they didn't. It was a struggle for my parents to keep the family in balance. Having a child diagnosed with a catastrophic illness is emotionally tough on the whole family. Through therapy individually, we each had the opportunity to talk about our feelings, fears and frustrations. Then we came together as a family with the therapist and openly talked about how my illness affected the whole family-and together we found the tools to cope and manage. As a child, I hated going to therapy. But now, thinking back to it with an adult perspective, therapy was a wonderful thing and it helped our family through those tough years. As you travel through the days, weeks, months, and sometimes year's of your child's illness, seek out support. Every parent's initial reaction to their child's diagnosis is, "Oh my God, my baby is sick." Come to terms with that but don't disregard the rest of your family as a result. Spend a few extra minutes to do the math homework with one of your other children. Instead of saying, "I'm too tired," take the extra time to be with another sibling. If you have to take another trip to the hospital, include the whole family in the hospital outing and use the time to connect, not just to wait. Fifteen minutes with the healthy child will provide enormous comfort and love. Be more aware of your actions and manage your time. Remind yourself that it's OK to leave your sick child for awhile, too. You don't have to be with him or her all of the time. Others can help you. It's easy to get caught up in the moment. Step back and look at the big picture of your family, too. And remember that therapy can help you to do just that.

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