~(c) Phyllis Griffiths, 2016
When a person has a chronic illness the normal stresses of life double with the problems that the illness will cause. The more severe the health problems, the more stress. The baseline of life stress for a person stricken is much higher than pre-illness. Add a flare up and the stress flares up higher as well. Some may be shut ins: housebound and even bedridden.
Chronic illness can be debilitating creating a situation of poverty where the person cannot bring in an income on top of the added costs of health care to keep the person alive and comfortable. The stresses of poverty can overwhelm.
Family and friends often do not understand the restrictions on the functionality of the ill person, abandoning them when they do not get well, as if they had the choice to be their old selves. More stress.
Holiday seasons add even more stress as the stresses of money, isolation, neglect and abandonment grow more acute. Being an observer of life that a person was once a participant to can be overwhelming. The December holiday cycle is a time of great joy and fun for many and a time of great despondency and despair for many. The stresses can be fatal as bodies succumb to illness and spirits succumb with suicide.
How can people help their loved ones this time of the year?
The best gifts that can be given cost so very little and mean so much.
* Make time for them. The stricken and their caregivers alike.
* Add them back into to your lives if you have grown apart- a visit, phone call, even an old fashioned real snail mail card in the mail.
* Listen to them, really listen. Give no advice unless asked. Be supportive.
* Take them out to see the sights and hear the sounds of the season. Go out for coffee/tea and pick up the tab.
* Bring them in a holiday meal if they cannot leave their homes. Seasonal treats are often beyond the reach of those who barely can afford daily groceries.
* Offer to help with household chores. The simple things like sweeping a floor may be too much let alone a good house cleaning job. An afternoon of house cleaning may be the most welcome gift imaginable.
* Bring a hamper of groceries. Money stresses increase this time of year and the grocery budget often evaporates.
* If you bake a gift of from your kitchen is always welcome especially when the effort is taken to take any special restrictions into account.
* Take the time to find out what is needed most and help out in that area if you can.
What you do not do can be as important as what you do do.
x Do not offer to do anything that you are unwilling to actually put in the efforts to do and do as well as possible. Nothing hurts worse than empty promises. Instead of lessening the stress it adds to it causing more harm than good.
x Do not drop by unannounced. Call first to be sure that the loved one is up to a visit. But when you arrange for a visit be sure that it becomes a priority as nothing hurts worse than an empty promise.
x Do not do anything grudgingly nor say anything to shame or guilt the stricken person, not even in jest. They already feel bad enough about being as they are, being unable to do what they used to be able to do.
x Do not be judgemental. This only adds fuel to the fire, so to speak. No one chooses to suffer, no matter how many memes about suffering being a choice float around the internet. It is a part of the condition of being alive. The best any person can ever do is reach a point of acceptance with their lives and to find a level of contentment within it. People do the best that they can within the situations that they find themselves. Unless you can live inside their skin you cannot know what it is like so be kind, not judgemental. In their skin you may not be able to do any "better" than they do.
All in All
Be kind. Be loving.
Give of your time.
Show that you care.