Tips to Deal with Serious Illness of a Loved One

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The news of a loved one having a serious illness can bring about a lot of anxiety and grief. Here are some tips to deal with serious illness of a loved one in the best way possible.

About 157mn Americans are suffering from a chronic disease, and nearly 81mn out of them may have multiple such diseases (that’s about half of the whole country if you are keeping count!). 

Developing a severe illness such as arthritis, diabetes, or cancer can affect the best of relationships. If a person gets seriously sick, it affects them and the people around them. Many individuals and families face hardship after losing their loved ones to serious illness.

Tips to Deal with Serious Illness of a Loved One

Coping in this challenging time is essential for a person’s well-being. After you hear the news of your loved one or parents afflicted by a severe disease, people usually feel a storm of emotion such as grief and anxiety. 

It is usual for people to behave with fear and trauma during the bad times of their loved ones suffering from severe mental illness. You should learn how to help and care for yourself and your loved one during this challenging time. 

How Does Your Loved One’s Severe Illness Affect You?

When a person develops a severe chronic illness, it is not easy for their family to react as they may be experiencing it for the first time. However, if you know how your loved one’s illness affects you, you can prepare for it to avoid going through the same thing that other people have gone through. 


When people hear the news of their loved one’s severe sickness, most of them deny that the person is dying, some others react with fear, but the grief is common. Grief can affect your overall health, including physically and mentally. 

Physical changes from grief may affect your appearance. It can also weaken a person’s ability to focus on work or study. 


Some people may avoid the sign of stress and pent up their emotions which later leads to frustration, hopelessness, anger, or depression. Symptoms of stress and grief are different for everyone. 

Other Emotions

Some people may experience these feelings, including anger, anxiety, confusion, blame, regret, denial, fear, irritability, shock, guilt, yearning, and loneliness. 

Your loved one’s serious illness can lead you to these thoughts such as disbelief, confusion, hallucination, and difficulty concentration.

Physical symptoms of stress include:

  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hyperventilating
  • Excessive sweat
  • Aggression
  • Crying spells
  • Change in appetite
  • Loss of energy
  • Excessive activity
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities
  • Heaviness or tightness in the throat or chest
  • Restlessness

You should look for these signs in yourself when your loved one is troubled with severe illness. You should try to maintain your health by asking for help from a health care provider. 

You can also talk about your problem with your friend or family to relieve some stress. You should stay strong and positive in these times of difficulty as your loved one needs you most in their illness.

Tips to Deal with Serious Illness of a Loved One

Tips To Deal With Serious Illness of a Loved One

Having a diagnosis of a severe illness is unfortunate for everyone, especially if it’s your loved one. However, experts say there is a way with commitment and patience. 

You and your loved one can deal with the strain that serious illness can place on your relationship. You should use these tips to cope with a challenging situation of serious illness of your loved one, including: 

Ease stressful emotions

Experts advise relieving your emotions as it is common to feel grief and anxiety because of your loved one’s serious illness. Many severe diseases are unpredictable, and when you and your partner come to know of their existence, you may feel that time froze.

To deal with anxiety and your racing thoughts, you can use the best way of identifying its root and apply strategies according to it. You should use these methods to include easing your stress, including:

  • First, learn about the condition you are experiencing and try controlling it with available resources. You can learn about the symptoms of stress and use therapy or medication for your situation.
  • You can also seek counseling sessions from a professional. If your loved one is also experiencing some mental illness, you can go with them for counseling. You can get counseling with a minister, therapist, rabbi, or other trained professional. You can also work on coping skills with someone with cognitive-behavioral therapy training.
  • You should watch for depression as clinical depression is not a typical response to your loved one’s chronic illness.
  • Acknowledge and accept the loss of the way your relationship with your partner used to be. 

You might like to read: Tips For Supporting Someone With Suicidal Thoughts

Use coping skills in the absence of your loved one

Every individual has a unique style of coping with challenging times. You should experiment with coping ideas that will help you once your loved one is gone. You can find practical coping skills that fit your lifestyle and personality well. 

You can also use this way to identify your own coping style by recalling the ways you have dealt with challenging times in your past. People use different coping skills; some are helpful, like writing in a journal or sharing thoughts with others. 

Some are destructive and harmful such as isolation and substance abuse. You must choose and develop healthy coping skills for facing hardship in life.

You can use the ideas from the list below to form healthy coping skills: 

  • Read poetry, novels, or books.
  • Talk to family or friends
  • Eat good foods
  • Engage in social activities
  • Write in a journal, tough things
  • Exercise
  • Find new hobby
  • Adopt a pet
  • Listen to music
  • Take time to relax
  • Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling
  • Support other in the same situation
  • Work with community
  • Be patient with yourself

You can also generate new ideas or a list of your own ideas to cope with your partner’s illness.

Tips to Deal with Serious Illness of a Loved One

Talk More Often

If your partner is diagnosed with severe disease, they naturally want to spend precious time with you. You should maintain communication with your partner. Most people become silent after facing such hardship and breaking contact with their partner, often leading to a more significant loss. 

When people stop discussing their problems with their partner, the chances of a relationship will suffer. Try to maintain communication because lack of discussion can lead to a lack of intimacy and feelings of distance. 

Be Patient

You should find ways to talk openly about hardship with your partner; it will help increase the feeling of closeness by finding a solution to your problem together. 

People with severe illnesses often get frustrated; you should keep patience and maintain communication. You should avoid getting upset when your partner irritates you; the irritation is not because of you but the condition.

Maintain the middle ground when you and your partner discuss the illness. Talking too much about the disease and showing too much concern is not good and talking nothing about it is also a problem. You can find a middle ground for your conversation about talking about other things such as children, household activities, and pets.

Ask your partner to state their needs.

People with chronic illness should state their needs clearly to their loved ones as they often give mixed messages. When your partner feels good, they may want to do stuff alone, but they may become resentful when others don’t assist them when they are not feeling well.

People should ask partners to be direct and clear about their needs instead of trying to “be brave” or avoid facing reality. 

You might like to read: Caregivers Guide to Providing Emotional Support

Manage Resentment

When a severe illness emerges in the life of your loved one, it can lead to an imbalance in your relationship. You might have to take on more responsibility for the household because your loved one may be physically incapable of doing certain things.

The person who provides care will start feeling resentful and overwhelmed. The person receiving care can start feeling like a patient more than their partner. You should talk with your partner about trading tasks and responsibilities. 

You should become equal partners by dividing activities based on your ability. If your loved one’s illness causes impaired driving skills, you can go for them, pick them, or drop them. At the same time, your loved one can schedule the day and do another task without becoming a burden for you.

Tips to Deal with Serious Illness of a Loved One

Address financial strain

56% of very sick people in the US have difficulty in managing at least one healthcare bill. When your loved one develops a severe illness, it can become a substantial financial burden for both of you. The money can be a strain for people going through the hardship of illness. 

You may have lost a considerable amount of income because of illness, which can stop you from working. The continuous treatment for your or your loved ones’ condition can also become a significant obstacle in your way to unwind and destress. 

Because of increased expenses on healthcare and remodeling fees, if your home needs to become suitable for your loved one’s severe condition and other increased medical expenses, you will lose a significant amount of your savings. It is essential for couples to use strategies to prevent complete loss of their financial status. 

Seek help from experts

You should address your financial strain and seek help from many insurance companies that offer insurance coverage on your medical expenses. You can get information about coverage on medication, doctor’s appointments, and treatment from working with a financial planner. 

Organizations like Medicare, Medicaid, and NAPFA can provide financial support if you are caring for a relative and are in financial trouble. These state insurance firms and other organizations help provide you and your loved one with many benefits, including cutting costs on drugs or medications, free doctor’s appointments, and lab assistance for testing.

Tips to Deal with Serious Illness of a Loved One

Steps to improve your well being

After knowing that your loved one has slick chances of living, anyone can feel a mountain of grief crushing themself. However, not everyone responds in the same manner to grief, but the result for most people is the same. 

Many people may develop bad habits (such as alcohol, smoking, and drugs) and start destroying their health after facing hardship; hence, taking care of yourself is necessary. You can take care of yourself using these steps, including: 

  • Feel your loss. You should allow yourself to feel numb, cry, be angry, or feel however you are feeling. 
  • Express your feelings. You should talk about your feelings with others, including your friends, family, or children. You can also use creative ways such as painting, music, or writing a journal to let your feelings out.
  • Fulfill your physical needs. You should exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and eat healthy meals.
  • You should avoid drinking alcohol. It can make you feel sadder as it is a depressant.
  • You should maintain a routine. Try going back to your normal routine and keep up with your daily activities as soon as you can.
  • Ask for help if you need it. You can reach your friends, family, therapist, or counselor for help.
  • Give yourself a break. You can take breaks from your grief by participating in activities you like and enjoy.

You might like to read: Dealing with Senior Depression – A Guide for Caregivers

How Can You Support and Encourage Your Loved One in This Situation?

If you are concerned about your loved one or whether they are going through some anxiety due to illness, you can show your support and make them feel secure. However, most people don’t know what can help in this scenario. 

First, you have to calm yourself; then, you can calm your loved one. You should use these methods to encourage your loved one, friend, or parents, including:

  • Try asking how they’re doing.
  • Say something positive about the situation.
  • Be a good listener. Listen silently to what they have to tell you.
  • You can just sit with them.
  • Share your feelings and thoughts.
  • Ask about their feelings
  • Talk about amusing past moments you shared with them.
  • Be available when you can
  • Let them feel sad and scared, don’t force them to stay positive.
  • Don’t let the fear of diagnosis prevent your loved one from receiving help.
  • Express your concern without placing blame or using alarmist language.
  • Encourage your partner to talk about their condition to medical setting staff such as doctors, nurses, and caregivers.
Tips to Deal with Serious Illness of a Loved One

Wrap Up

Severe illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, cancer, bipolar disorder, or heart disease can be scary for the person and their family. You should use the right measure to deal with the difficulties you may experience while diagnosing and treating your loved one illness. 

Get help from everywhere possible to ensure your and your loved one well being. When a person gets sick, you may notice that they change their behavior because they have lots of things going on their mind. You should try to communicate with them to ease their stress.

We hope the tips and ideas given in this article are useful for you. If you liked the content, please do not forget to like and share it on social media and with your groups. Your shares might help someone undergoing anxiety, grief, and depression due to this reason.