A serious illness, yours or someone else's, will often throw a spotlight onto the expectations we might have of others, particularly those people with whom we are in personal relationships.
The difficult role of Caregiver
If we find ourselves in the role of caregiver, particularly if this is over a long period of time, bad feelings can arise. We may find ourselves feeling guilty, resentful, angry or disappointed about the situation. The feelings of caregivers are often overlooked, while the needs of the patient may be met, over and over again every day, leaving the caregiver feeling neglected, exhausted and totally unappreciated. Such feelings are normal, but can result in the caregiver developing their own series of problems such as anxiety and depression. It is not unusual for the caregiver to become ill but, because of the demands of their patient, they must struggle on, ignoring their own difficulties.
The isolation of those with long-term or terminal illnesses.
The person who has a long-term or terminal illness may have most of his or her physical needs met on a daily basis by caregivers but, their need to talk about their disappointments, dashed hopes and particularly their fears, may never be mentioned. These patients often try to protect their caregivers, partners or family members by 'putting on a brave face' to the world while suffering emotionally in silence.
The patient who knows they are in the final stages of an illness may worry about those who will be left behind when they are gone, may worry about what will happen to their remains, but mostly they will want to talk about their death. There may be fear and terrible feelings of isolation as we, culturally, are not comfortable talking to someone about their death. Instead, we try to cheer them up, making them feel they must respond positively, when in fact their thoughts are far from positive. Counselling is a great way for the patient to express their fears and can bring great emotional comfort to those who are facing death.