Coping with a child's injury or illness tests the strength of parents each and every day. It's never easy and sometimes it may feel like more than they can handle. Especially during the holiday season, coping maybe even more challenging for children, siblings, and parents. A mom shares:
"It’s been weighing on my heart, pretty heavily over the last few weeks, about the amount of suffering that is easier to ignore than acknowledge during Christmas. It wasn’t so long ago that we dealt with our own suffering during “the most wonderful time of the year.” In 2009, Jackson was in the midst of immunotherapy treatment. I put a brave face on for him and for our family, but my heart was so very heavy with the “what ifs” and the pure exhaustion of caring for a child with cancer. In the back of my mind, I wondered if this would be his last Christmas. Would he relapse with this terrible disease and not make it through the next year?"
For doctors and nurses, checking in on the patient's and family's current emotional support and family needs can help to lower stress, anxiety and other fears and worries. So how can you do this with your patients?
When assessing a patient's current emotional support:
- Think about who and what does patient/family need now?
- Ask your patients/families about barriers to mobilizing existing supports?
To assess the family needs:
- Ask about family members' distress
- Gauge family stressors and resources
- Address other needs (beyond medical)