Having a child with a chronic or serious illness is something a parent should never have to face. Many families using Digging Deep have children that no one can assure are going to be okay, yet they are some of the most hopeful people I’ve ever met.
Being hopeful is not the same thing as being unrealistic or in denial. It is not just hoping that your child will get better. While some people might see the hospital as sad or depressing, as a parent, you might see it as a place of hope—somewhere that offers a chance for your child to get the medical attention he or she needs, while the whole family is surrounded by people who truly care about you.
Hope can provide the courage to face each new day. Hope can mean acceptance. There is hope for peace. Hope for the future. For some, hope might be garnered by trusting in something outside of themselves, and for others, it’s relying on their own strengths and personal sense of agency that makes them hopeful.
Here are a few tips for embracing hope in your life:
- Believe you are strong enough to bear what you have to face. Admit how truly taxing taking care of a child with serious or chronic illness is and give yourself credit for getting through what you have already had to face: “It’s been awful but somehow I am hanging in there.”
- Set goals while at the same time being flexible. Goals are very important for the spirit. It can be quite depressing not having something to look forward to. It may seem very hard to set goals or have plans in advance when there are no certainties day-to-day. The key when setting goals while caring for an ill child is flexibility. For example, hope related to a cure might change to hope for a response to treatment; hope for normalcy to hope for quality of life; and hope for returning to activities with your child to the love of just spending time with him or her.
- Try to take a moment of calm and find your center. Everyone does this in a different way. Don’t panic if meditation is not your thing or watching the waves crash on the beach from you land-locked state is not a reality. Follow your heart to a place where you feel centered. It might be doing art, cooking, losing yourself in a book, taking a long walk with a friend by your side while feeling no pressure to even talk. You will know when you find that place.
- Let your child define his or her own hopes and dreams. Even if it may seem unrealistic to you, support your child in how he or she defines hope. Dreams are important. Let your child have them and try to find a way to support his or her dreams, even if this means collecting pictures and making a collage of that next dream trip or picking out that outfit for when they will go to school again. It doesn’t matter if your child gets there or not—it is the dream that is important.
- Lighten up and laugh. Every person has a sense of humor, even if you don’t find yourself laughing out loud or cracking jokes. Tapping into what you find humorous, light, or carefree can not only help you unburden yourself but also may work to build a connection with others.
Embrace hope in 2017!