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10 Things That You Might Feel When You Find Out That Your Parent is Sick

So. You’ve just found out that your mom or dad is sick. Now what? When my mom told me that her cancer had come back, I instantly burst into tears. The next day I was really frustrated to the point of rage. And the day after that, I just felt confused and alone. So, without further ado, ten things that you might feel when you find out that your mom or dad is sick:

1) SADNESS: When my mom told me that her cancer had come back, I instantly burst into tears. Part of me felt ashamed for crying so hysterically. What was wrong with me? Get it together, Chels! Crying hysterically, wildly, unexpectedly etc. is all part of the game. It is also normal to feel like you have a pit in your stomach. Or, if you don’t cry at all - that is okay, too! We all experience sadness in our own way.

It is normal to:

-Burst into tears unexpectedly.

-Cry hysterically, wildly, or uncontrolably.

-Not cry at all, even if you do feel sad.

2. CONFUSION: You are not crazy. You might freak out and feel like the world is crashing down on you but…that’s okay. Honestly, illness is confusing. There are a lot of facts + figures that you can choose to research - or not! At this stage in my life, I have chosen to research cancer. When I was in middle school and high-school, however, I chose not to research ALS.

It is normal to wonder:

-Why did this happen to him/her?

-Why did this happen to me?

-What does mean for my family and me?

-How am I supposed to feel normal at school or at work?

3) ANGER: You might be SO freaking mad. And hey, I don’t blame you. This sucks. I don't consider myself an angry person, but alas, when I think of the fact that some people come down with incurable illnesses out of the blue, my blood begins to boil.

It is normal to:

-Feel frustrated to the point of rage.

-Feel resentful/angry towards yourself, a family member, or a higher power.

-Want to punch a pillow (do it!)

-Feel angry inside and not know why.

4) WEIRDNESS: Sometimes I enter this awkward space of like…I don’t even really know how I’m feeling. Which is weird. You feel weirded out by this new illness. Or might feel normal about it. That’s cool, too.

It is normal to:

-Feel weirded out by the situation in general.

-Think it’s weird to be related to a sick person, or that the sickness itself is weird.

-Feel things that seem odd or strange.

5) EMBARRASSED: Honestly, this one is awkward to talk about. Who ever wants to admit that they’re embarrassed of their mom or dad? Well, I’m here to tell you that if you are feeling embarrassed - let it out! That is okay! I was SO embarrassed of my dad’s wheelchair when I was little. Embrace the embarrassment! You have every right to feel this way.

It is normal to:

-Feel embarrassed by your parent’s physical or emotional limitations.

-Feel embarrassed by your parent’s wheelchair, handicap parking sign, oxygen tubes, bald head, scabs, scars, or walking cane etc.

6) ANXIETY: Sometimes I can’t exactly pinpoint what is going on inside of me, and yet feel this dreaded anxiety creeping up in my stomach. This is normal, and likely related to the amount of stress you are under given your new circumstance.

It is normal to:

-Feel anxious about the future

-Feel anxiety in general, even if you don’t know why.

-Feel anxiety at random times.

-Feel anxious about what to tell your friends.

-Feel anxious about your own well-being.

7) LEFT OUT: You might find yourself not relating to your friends at school or co-workers at work. Why? Because you have something huge weighing on your mind, of course. I personally can feel very left out of conversations when folks are freaking out about something trivial, like a friend not texting them back.

It is normal to:

Feel left out of conversations with your friends, knowing you have “bigger” things on your mind.

-Feel like you don’t relate to other people like you did before.

-Feel left out of conversations at home, if there are topics that your parents/caregivers wish to keep from you.

8) NEGLECT: You might feel less cared for during this new time in your life, since your sick parent has a lot to take care of. He or she might be doing the best that they can while also trying to take care of their own self. Please know that they are doing the best that they can.

Even though it’s difficult, it may help you to inform your parent that you feel like you want to be included, if that is what you wish for.

It is normal to:

-Feel neglected re: your parent not calling you or engaging with you as often as before.

-Feel like you aren’t being filled in, even when you want answers.

-Feel alone during this difficult time.

9) GUILTY: I don’t know about you, but I tend to feel guilty when a day goes by where I’m not thinking about my mom as often as the day prior. Or when I go out with friends and have a great time. Part of me is like, wait, is that okay? Absolutely! You need to be taking care of yourself during this time, and having fun is very important right now whenever possible.

It is normal to:

-Feel guilty if you don’t feel sad all the time.

-Feel guilty if you’re continuing to live your life and have fun (you deserve it!)

-Feel guilty if you don’t call or see your parent as often as you’d like.

10) OVERWHELMED: Above all, you might identify with feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes with new information being given to you so frequently, and with new things happening related to your parents’ illness, it can be a lot to take in.

It is normal to:

-Feel overwhelmed by everything that is happening in your life right now.

-Feel overwhelmed by the other things in your life, unrelated to the illness.

-Feel overwhelmed by simple tasks that didn’t used to bother you.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone is going to feel differently when they find out that their mom or dad is sick. This could depend on an array of factors, including what kind of sickness he/she has, how long they have had the illness, how close you are to your parent, etc. What feeling do you most identify with from the list above? Please remember that whatever you’re feeling, you’re not alone.

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