From her book, When Life Becomes Precious: The Essential Guide for Patients, Loved Ones, and Friends of those Facing Serious Illness
by Elise Needell Babcock:

Common reactions to news of serious illness:


“How can this be? He takes such good care of himself!”
” How can this happen when we’re expecting a baby?”
“Why now? We’ve just retired!”
“How can he be sick again after all he’s been through?”
“Dad just had a stroke. I can’t believe Mom has cancer now.”

News of a catastrophic disease violates our beliefs about the way the world is supposed to work, about what is fair and right. Rabbi Roy Walter makes an interesting point: We never question whether something is fair when it’s good. But when something bad happens, the first thing we say is, “This isn’t fair.”

I’m furious at the cancer for entering our lives.”
“My husband and I have been fighting about finances for two years. I’m still furious.”
“I’m mad because my in-laws visit only when it’s convenient for them.”
“I hate waiting. Can’t these doctors figure out how to schedule patients?”
“I’m angry she isn’t doing more to take care of herself.”
Many of us are brought up to believe anger is bad. Others are taught “not that the feeling is bad but that the behavior accompanying it is often unacceptable,” explains nurse Mary Hughes.

Yet, acknowledging anger is good and has positive benefits. Once you know you are angry, you can use it as fuel to solve problems, to become assertive, and to get your needs met. Ignoring your anger, however, is bad. It’s like burying a volcano and hoping it won’t explode.

More than likely, numerous responsibilities have instantly been added to your already busy life. At first you tackle them by charging ahead, taking on all of your new chores as well as your old ones. You try to handle each and every one of them yourself. At some point, and probably very quickly, you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. You cannot handle them all yourself, nor should you expect to be able to. Such expectations will inevitably go unfulfilled, and berated or blaming yourself will lessen your ability to meet any of your responsibilities.

Source: CoReacting to Illness —

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