Hearing that your child has been diagnosed with a serious illness or disability is something that no one is ever prepared to hear, and it can seem extremely difficult or even impossible to process. With the right coping mechanisms, you can make the process easier on your child, your family, and yourself. By taking care of yourselves during this time, learning about your child’s illness and ensuring your family has the right support, you can learn to focus on more than just your child’s illness and increasing their overall quality of life.
Due to the progression of modern medicine, there are so many treatments, surgeries and equipment that can improve the lives of ill and disabled children. Tree of Hope is the UK’s crowdfunding charity that helps children and young people with a disability or illness by supporting their families to raise the money they need to pay for this specialist care.
In this post, Georgie, Family Support Officer at Tree of Hope, shares 5 tips for coping with the diagnosis of a seriously ill or disabled child.
- Take Your Time
Receiving the news that your child is seriously ill or disabled can be a shock for the whole family. It’s important that you, your child and the rest of your immediate family take the time you need to digest the news and deal with your feelings.
The whole family is likely to experience a range of emotions, from grief to anger and many more, and it’s important to remember that acceptance can be a lifelong process. There is no set period of time for which you need to feel like you’re prepared to face your child’s illness, so it’s important to take each day as it comes.
- Ask Questions
Different illnesses and disabilities present themselves in different ways. It’s important that you understand your child’s illness and how it will affect them, what you can do to help and what you should expect. This is why it is so important that you ask your doctor and specialists as many questions as possible.
You should also take it upon yourself to spend some time researching your child’s condition, the different treatments available and what equipment might improve their quality of life. The more knowledge you have, the more prepared you will feel to cope and be proactive.
- Accept That You’re Going to Need Support
As much as you may want to do everything for your child on your own, it’s important to accept that you won’t always be able to do this. There will be times when you are going to need a little extra help when caring for your child.
Depending on your child’s illness, it may be difficult physically to help them, and no matter their condition, you’re going to need extra emotional support at times from people who understand what your family is going through. If you’re not sure where to start, speaking with your child’s doctor and specialists is a great way to find out the kind of support that will be best for your family.
- Find the Support That is Best for You
Once you’ve accepted that you’re going to need support, it’s time to find it. There are so many wonderful charities that support ill or disabled children and their families, as well as illness specific charities that can guide your family through this process.
Support groups are an excellent way to meet other parents and carers dealing with similar difficulties and can be a great help emotionally. Local groups and schools may be able to help you with any special education needs your child may have as a result of their condition. It’s important to surround your family with people who are going to be a knowledgeable and positive presence as you navigate your way through learning how to offer the best support you can for your child.
- Accept Help from Your Family and Friends
Once you and your immediate family are ready, it’s vital that you share your child’s diagnosis with your extended family and good friends. The people who are closest to you will only want to help, either by offering physical or emotional support in whatever way they can. Family and friends can help in the simplest ways, like watching your other children while you take your diagnosed child to appointments, or helping you keep on top of the housework. These gestures can be a huge weight off your shoulders.
By opening up to your family and friends, you are widening your circle of support and increasing the number of people who can help your child live their life beyond the definition of their illness or disability.