My June 19th post discussed a common conundrum for patients: Should they suffer silently to protect their loved ones? Or does hiding pain selfishly deprive loved ones the opportunity to help, offer comfort, or at least know what’s going on? One tip based on years of trying to deal with this as a Healthy Survivor is: Examine the possible negative outcomes of each path. The following examples barely scratch the surface of all the possible negative consequences:
If I share that I’m unwell, we might cancel a planned activity. If we decide to proceed, even if I am able to get by, my loved ones are distracted by concern for me.
If I keep my discomfort secret I might get sicker, causing disruption that takes my loved ones by surprise. Along with their compassion and concern, they may also feel anger that I deprived them a chance to weigh in on the decision about going. Or, I’m able to get by, yet my loved ones mistakenly conclude I’m angry or unhappy (when neither is true; I’m just unwell).
Over the years, I’ve learned what’s best for me and my family through open, honest discussions about what each of us needs and wants. The difficult, emotional conversations led to compromises, with rules and routines for moving forward that work for us. It’s an ongoing process as my situation changes and as we change.
Illness is a family affair. Working together paves the way to Healthy Survivorship.
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