Having a child does not come with instructions on how to cope with serious medical issues. When your child is diagnosed with a serious illness, it can be overwhelming and difficult to see a way forward.
In this article, we hope to provide you with some helpful ideas on how to deal with the situation, from where to find support, how you can help your child through this challenging time, and even the practical aspects of dealing with insurance companies or making home modifications to accommodate your child’s needs.
These are difficult circumstances for any parent, but you are not alone.
Talk to your child about their illness
Children are more resilient than we often give them credit for. This can be especially true in situations where your child is medically ill. They may be able to process the situation better than you think, and they may want to know more about what is happening and what the doctors are recommending.
When your child knows more about their illness, they will feel more in control of the situation and have a better outlook on the future. This is a good place to start when helping your child cope with their illness. It can be helpful to talk to your child’s doctors about what you can share with your child and how much detail.
Despite how resilient they are, your child will likely have a swirl of emotions concerning their illness. Talking about their thoughts and feelings will always help—a burden shared is a burden halved. By giving your child the space to feel they can be honest about how they feel, you should be able to help them deal with the mental side of being seriously ill.
Find a therapist for yourself
When you experience a personal tragedy, it can be easy to think, “What are the practical steps I need to take to get my life back on track?” However, this isn’t a healthy way of coping with a serious illness in your child. Instead, you should be taking care of your needs as a parent and making sure you are also getting help and support.
This isn’t something you can forget about or push to the side—you need to make sure you take care of yourself while taking care of your child. Seeking help from a therapist can help you better cope with your situation and help you get more support.
Make home adjustments
When your child has a serious illness, you will likely need to adjust your home to better suit their needs. For example, you may need to add extra handrails, install a ramp, or modify the layout of your home to make it easier to navigate. You may also decide that your child should have their own room rather than share with other siblings.
You may choose to move to a new home with everything you need, but it may be better to simply modify your own home. This way, you can reduce the change you are going through in one area.
Get help with daily tasks
If your child has a serious illness, they may need lots of help with daily tasks. You may have a child who is wheelchair-bound and needs help getting dressed, or a child who cannot eat independently. You may have a child who needs help with their therapy. You may have a child who needs constant supervision because of the risk of infection.
If you find yourself unable to handle all of these daily tasks, you may want to consider hiring a caregiver. Hiring someone who specializes in helping children with special needs can give you more time to take care of your other children, take care of yourself, and help your sick child through their difficult time.
Seek medical help abroad
If your child has a serious medical condition, you may want to look into getting medical help abroad. Many organizations help families find medical care in other countries. You can also search online to find information on foreign medical facilities. You may want to consider medical tourism if your child’s illness is very complex and you have been unable to find a doctor in your country who can help.
You are not alone
Looking after a sick child can be an incredibly isolating experience, riddled with worry and fear. You need to reach out for help to give you and your family the best chance of getting through this difficult period. Whether this is creating a support network with your family and friends or by seeking professional help, make sure you aren’t left alone to deal with everything.