My Relative is Sick – Help! 

Photograph of a hand holding up a mug of coffee in a forest. Mug is black with 3 white pine trees on it. White rectangle over photo and text over the top: My Relative is Sick - Help! Coping tips and strategies when your relative is newly diagnosed.

Dear one,

I’m really sorry to hear about this difficult time and I’m sending you so much love. At Healing Boxes, we have plenty of experience helping people support their loved ones when they’re hurting. And I’d like to share some ideas and skills with you today:

So, your loved one is hurting, what can you do?


1. Press Pause.

If you’ve just received a phone call, you are googling on your way to the hospital, you are lying awake at night thinking about your dear one in pain… I’d like you to take a moment. Press pause.

Take a deep breath in and let it out. When in doubt, breathe out.

You will be better able to support your loved one, better able to move, act and make decisions if you are not in crisis mode. Crisis mode is great for running away from tigers but not so great for making decisions about care and treatment. So give yourself a breather and a break.

2. Put on Your Oxygen Mask

“In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.” – It’s a message most of us have learned to tune out — take care of yourself in order to be effective especially in high crunch situations — and yet, one which can make a significant difference in our effectiveness.” – Huffington Post.

I know it’s hard, and I know it feels counter-intuitive. But if you don’t get enough sleep, and food then you aren’t able to help your loved one.

Being the one who is ill is very hard, and one of the most painful parts can be watching the process affect our loved ones. When you take care of yourself, the ill person no longer has to worry about how much their illness may be hurting you.

It’s important to take responsibility for our self-care, even and especially during a crisis. And if you’d like to learn how to build resilience and a toolkit so you are fuelled during a crisis, head here.

3. Gather Information and Convene a Healing Team

If you don’t understand what the doctor is talking about, politely ask them to explain further.

Write down and ask for the spellings of any terms or diagnoses they use so you can look them up later.

Ask for recommendations and resources. In the UK, you can get books on prescription, so ask.

4. Create Comfort and Cheer

Illness can be devastating, scary and painful. But it can also be depressing, boring and serious. When someone is very ill it’s easy to get into the habit of treating them medically and forgetting about the fun, human things that make life bright.

– Can you bring some nail varnish into the hospital, and get them a pretty pedicure?

– How about getting a new, exciting book and reading it aloud, or listening to the audio version together?

– Maybe watching your favourite childhood films again would be a fun distraction?

– Or ordering a Healing Box full of helpful goodies to make their day?


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