Listening to your partner and your children is a vital part of keeping communication open between family members and is especially important when visiting your relative in hospital.
Open communication contributes to stronger relationships making it a safe place to share thoughts and anxieties as well as hopes and dreams for the future.
“During the first two to three months after my husband’s injury I lived in a haze of exhaustion. I was travelling between home and the hospital about three times a week and was trying to juggle a part-time job, look after my two teenage children and visit my husband.
I was also trying to get things organised at home but didn’t feel I was achieving very much and was constantly snappy and weepy. The worst thing was the rows that I had with my children at home. They were argumentative and this took a lot out of me. I felt annoyed with them because I was trying to protect them by not telling them anything and I couldn’t understand why they were being so difficult all the time…
“One day a close friend had a quiet word with me and asked whether I had managed to have time to myself. She also asked whether I had let the children know what was happening with their father. I realised that I hadn’t done either of these things and had kept pushing and pushing myself to the limit. I did eventually sit down with the children that night and told them exactly what their father’s injuries were and about the changes that might need to happen when he came home. I also reassured them of the things that wouldn’t change: that he was still the father they knew and loved and that life would still carry on as before, even though there would have to be some changes.
“I explained about the equipment that he would need and why it would help him. They bombarded me with questions and I was quite shocked at how resentful they were because I hadn’t spoken to them. My son said he thought we were going to divorce because I had been so moody and they had worried about who was going to live with their father and take care of him and whether I was fed up with looking after them. I felt really upset afterwards especially as I hadn’t realised how they were feeling.
“Things are so much better at home now. I make an effort to do something nice once a week, either with the children or on my own or with friends. We also sit down as a family and I encourage them to talk openly about how things will be when their father comes home. The children have also asked to visit their father more often and I notice that he seems less tense. Perhaps this is because he knows we are happier. The children seem to take more of an interest in him now and talk about things we can all do when he comes home.
“I didn’t realise that the way my children were behaving was because they were scared of losing both their parents. I feel so sad that they have gone through those emotions and I am now really trying to make an effort not to get so tired and run-down.”
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