A good father and husband does many things. He protects. He leads. He provides. He encourages. He strengthens. He loves. So what happens when his spouse gets sick?
Sickness and disease are unavoidable in this broken world. But when it comes to your own spouse falling ill, your world can be knocked completely upside down. You often feel overwhelmed by the ceaseless waves of bad news crashing over the deck of your family’s life. But that’s when your wife and your kids need you to love and lead the most.
My wife, Susan, has had a dozen surgeries. Most of those surgeries have been during our married life and have been related to her heart and pacemaker. During those pre-op and post-op periods, I’ve had to step up as a husband and dad and do some things that may normally be a bit out of my comfort zone. And while I share my thoughts below on what you can do for your family during those tough times, please know that I did not do all of them well all of the time. I was sometimes impatient, unkind, and short-tempered as I walked this bumpy road.
Here are a few management roles you can take on to help your wife and kids get through this difficult season of life:
1. Medical Manager.
Start taking charge by being organized. First, keep track of all medical records from your wife’s doctor in a file at home. Second, not only should you set up doctor appointments, but you should also do everything possible to be with your spouse at those appointments. Third, take time to research the illness on your own so that you can ask the doctor questions and be clear about the diagnosis and plan of action. And lastly, if you question any part of the treatment or diagnosis, don’t be slow in seeking a second opinion from another physician.
2. House Manager.
Beyond the medical side of things, it’s important to keep day-to-day life at home running as smoothly as possible. For example, keep your kids on their normal schedule so that they don’t become overwhelmed with too much change at once. In addition, allow your older kids to help with chores around the house so that they feel they are helping in their own way. Also, coordinate with neighbors and extended family about providing meals. Not only will you avoid worrying about cooking, but your friends will enjoy contributing in some way as well.
3. Time Manager.
It’s important to remember that there is a time and season for everything. This may be a season where you have to spend more time at home with your wife and kids and less time at the office. Discuss the matter with your boss and explain to them that you need to spend more time at home and see if you might be able to work more at home for a set period of time. Since every moment counts, this may be a time in your life when you need to forego some of the “fun” things you normally do to care for your family. Those football games and fishing trips may just have to wait.
4. Emotional Manager.
While your spouse may be suffering physically, you may be feeling some emotional pain from it all. As tough as illness is on the patient, the caregiver also experiences hardship. So, it is vital to share with trusted family and friends how you’re really doing. Allow them to encourage and emotionally support you. Also, be sure to discuss things with your kids and ask them often how they are feeling and be sure to listen, comfort, and encourage them.
If you fall into this category of being the medical manager for a spouse, parent, or child, I know this is a huge burden to bear. My biggest hope is that you’ll find strength and perseverance to fight this battle for your family member and ultimately for them to be healed.
Have you ever been the manager of your home during a family member’s illness? If so, please share your thoughts with me below.