A health crisis is one of the strongest situations that demands we face fear. It grabs our attention unexpectedly. It’s strength wraps us, in a way, that we feel trapped. Powerless. Singled out. Why me? Why now?
You would think that I would be talking about the person that is going through the journey following an event or diagnosis of their health problem. I am not. What’s interesting, is the patient is the one who has resolved in their heart to not fear what they face. While being scared, they look forward to the next steps to make them better. I am sure, in part, because they have no choice. Having had a recent health issue, I was forced to experience this first hand.
Where facing fear becomes a monster that takes on a life of its own, is for those family members and close friends around the patient. Two powerful forces make facing fear for them, very difficult during these times.
First is selfishness on their part. Their lives become disrupted. Their normal daily routines are now continually interrupted with worry about a family member or friend they love immensely.
No longer is anything routine in their days. Laughter hides from conversations. Joy is smothered so that no one thinks their insensitive. They want their time back without worrying about the other person. It’s an awkward time. They don’t know what to say or do. Selfishly, they don’t want this to happen. They want everything to be normal because they love the individual so much and is such a big part of their lives.
The second force magnifies fear. It’s the stories they tell themselves about possible outcomes. Negative outcomes. Always what is the worst that could happen. As if they are preparing themselves, in a way, to cushion a further hurt that they may experience. Strangely, feeling more sorry for themselves (instead of the patient) along the way. Abandoning hope, faith and medical probabilities in order to protect their weakened selves. (This is totally the opposite feeling of the patient who looks towards their treatment with optimism.)
It becomes a viscious cycle for the family members (observers essentially) around a health issue. Selfish feelings magnified by fear through the negative outcomes that they convince themselves could be true. Why? Because they are only thinking of themselves. Leading to a downward spiral, wreaking havoc in their everyday world, when facing this type of fear.
They are the ones that become so fragile when facing fear. Not the patient. While our prayers go out to the patient for a good outcome and speedy recovery, our presence, kindness, and concern must double for those close to a patient. For their journey, is the more difficult one.
Facing fear, for them, is much more intense and much harder to verbalize for they have no control in trying to match their heart’s wishes to the situation. Only a doctor can do that part. They can only try to control the pain in their heart.
Counter-intuitively, we must become the doctor of our own soul when one of our own family members are sick. Better understanding our selfishness and our tendency to thinking the worst will happen is necessary to remember to care for our loved one in their time of need.
With the same optimism and hope that they believe in their hearts during their treatment and recovery.