Handling Bad News

You or a loved one have been dealing with a health crisis. You may be having issues or you might think you are going along just fine and you get into the swing of your treatment. Regular MRIs are usually scheduled to monitor health status, problems and progress.

Inevitably in a health crisis there is bad news. The treatment isn’t effective, side effects are severe, complications pop up or there are insurance or money issues. Managing a health crisis can be very costly and continued treatment may not be affordable. There may be family issues and caring for the ill patient becomes stressful. Emotional problems may crop up like depression (yours or caregivers), frustration, anger or burnout.

Then everyone starts giving you their opinion and sending you lots of emails about alternative treatment. It is much appreciated, but overwhelming. The bad news affects everyone and the first instinct is to help by giving advice. I believe it is an instinct because loved ones and friends and the ill person too have a hard time accepting that things are not going well. The patient is often in shock or denial about the bad news. When that happens the mind shuts down as well as the emotions and the bombardment of well wishers can be seen as a negative experience rather than supportive.

The feeling of “back to the drawing board” is frightening, hope wanes and you might question your ability to rally and push on. You have lots of decisions to make about new treatment options. Then when you decide what you want to do the effort to put the pieces of your new treatment together can be daunting.

The solution in the case of bad news is one word: SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT! That means you have to be willing to receive support. Letting down your ego about being independent, taking people up on their offers to help (from lending an ear to cooking a meal or running an errand for you). It means leaning on others and if others are not available calling upon other resources.

A therapist (traditional or Hypnotherapist) is a must. You need someone to talk to who is not invested in your outcome. You need to feel your emotions so you can clear the way for good decision making. Lean on your doctor and other friendly medical staff that you created rapport with. They are often there with a friendly and understanding ear and they are experienced in health issues.

There are self help methods of support. Listening to stress reduction CDs, breathing exercises, Yoga, exercise (if you are able), meditation and more. If you have been using alternative therapy, those health care practitioners are often willing to talk to you and support you, like your Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, massage therapist, etc.

In deciding what to pursue I like to listen,,, not so much to others, but to myself. That’s right; YOU are your best resource and support! Amidst the jumble of thoughts, questions, and emotions there is a quiet place inside of you. Your inner wisdom lives there as well as your instinctual “knowing”. Guidance is abundant when you listen. You will notice something, perhaps just a small thought. You will pay attention and pretty soon you will have a thought or idea that feels right. You might hear something from someone or hear it twice (remember those overwhelming suggestions from others?). Now you will be more receptive when you find the calm inside.

Bad news isn’t always bad news. It can be the catalyst to changing to a new treatment that is effective for you. It gives you space to approach your health crisis in a new way. It can make you stronger, more resilient, and more powerful.

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