In order to care for and support your loved one, it is vital that you take care of your own emotional, physical and spiritual needs.
- Take it one day at a time – trust there may be goods days as well as bad.
- Develop a strong, supportive network – be willing to ask for help if you need it.
- You may feel as though you are on an emotional roller coaster – up one day and down the next. Be assured, this is normal during stress and anticipatory grief.
- Allow yourself to “feel your feelings” as they come. There is not right or wrong way of feeling at this time. Be extra gentle and try not to judge these feelings.
- Crying is a safety valve during times of stress. Let your tears flow – it’s a good way of coping.
- Treasure the moments of lightheartedness and laughter. The ability to laugh is a great tension reliever. Do not feel guilty about this.
- Talk to someone you trust, whether friend or professional, about your thoughts and feelings.
- For your own peace of mind, try to be as informed as possible about your loved one’s illness and care. You may need to ask several times because the situation changes or you do not remember. It is hard to hear and remember when you are upset.
- Recognize your own needs and limitations. Set limits and don’t be afraid to say ‘no”.
- You are doing the best you can in difficult circumstances so give yourself daily words of encouragement and praise.
- Take time each day to do something restful just for you – a walk, a soothing bath, massage, beautiful music, a relaxation tape.
- It is important to take a break from care giving and grieving when possible. It is necessary for your own physical and emotional health.
- Pay attention to what your body is telling you. Is it tired, hungry, tense?
- Do the common sense things such as eating rights, exercising, getting fresh air and rest, even when you do not feel like it.
- Remember to breathe! Several times each day take a few breaths, breathing out for slightly longer than you breathe in.
- Nurture your spiritual side. Pursue those things that are uplifting to you – prayer, meditation, walking in nature, quiet moments in a special place to listen to your inner voice.
- Hold on to hope. It can be a source of support and comfort. Notice how the nature of hope may change over time, for example, from hope for a cure to hope for a peaceful death.