Your definition of family may be very different from others. Your family may include your partner and your blood relatives such as your parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Your family may also be composed of those around you who love and support you.
Throughout your lymphoma experience, various members of your family may have reacted to your illness and/or supported you in different ways. Some may have been helpful, supportive, and encouraging, giving rise to strengthened relationships. While others may have been distant and unsupportive and ended up hurting you in the process.
Changes in roles and responsibilities that occurred while you were undergoing treatment, for example paying the bills, household chores, or caring for an elderly, may need to be re-evaluated. If you have young children, chances are you may have had to transfer some responsibilities to others in your support circle. Moving forward at this stage of your lymphoma experience, some family members may continue to support you while others may start or continue to withdraw. Either way, here are some helpful tips to improve communication with other family members:
- Continue to connect with them and let them know how you are doing.
- If possible, try to have family meetings to be sure everyone is kept abreast of changes.
- Be honest about what you need now that treatment is over and let them know how they can help.
- Ask them to share what their expectations are so that you can be clear about whether they are reasonable to you.
- Be patient with one another as you all try to sort out the new roles and responsibilities.
- Let them know what to expect in the coming months.
- Be intentional about reintegrating the things that you all enjoyed together but had to set aside during your treatment; for those things that seem overwhelming, perhaps there are ways to incorporate them gently in small steps.
- Encourage them to seek out connections with others who have been in similar circumstances.
If unresolved issues still remain, you may wish to speak with a counselor or social worker.
Canadian Cancer Society. Coping within a family
National Cancer Institute. Facing Forward: When Someone You Love Has Completed Cancer Treatment. Talking with Your Family