Eve (not her real name) is the widow of a man who had von Hippel-Lindau disease, and a series of brain and kidney tumors that led him to a course of dialysis and eventually to his death. Eve graciously shares the pain of her experience so that we can learn from her experience.
Sheryle Baker, M.A., LMHC., is Executive Director of Life Center of Tampa, Florida, a non-profit agency that provides counseling for victims of violent crime, and people who have lost loved ones, through chronic illness or sudden death. She a psychotherapist specializing in bereavement and traumatic loss and incident,
It is important to manage caregiver stress while you are going through the experience. If the patient is willing to negotiate the changes in roles and responsibilities that occur, that can help. Others around the caregiver can provide important support and outlets for stress.
For both the patient and the caregiver, there are a series of losses, culminating in the death of the loved one. Each of these losses must be grieved, and the grief worked through, or the stress turns outward (as anger) or inward (as bitterness and even illness).
Often when we are in a traumatic incident we muddle on through and seem to be doing fine. After the peak of the stress has passed, however, we crash. This “post-traumatic stress” can be devastating, and requires work to get through it.
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