Chapter 2: All in the family

All in this together

We tried to work it out so my brothers would come in and take a turn with Dad. One had a young family at home, and one had to constantly fly across the country for his work. But between the two of them, I did get an occasional break.

When you are trying to cope as a family with a life-limiting diagnosis, treatment options, and caregiving decisions, taking a practical and proactive approach can aid your efforts. What does this mean? Roll your mouse over each of the boxes below for two main considerations for being practical and proactive.




Ask questions like this:
“How can we work together as a team?”





Pause before responding to suggestions and ask,
“Is this how we want to use our energy, especially our emotional energy?”


Below are two more strategies that may help you and your family as you work through the initial diagnosis and progression of the disease.

Allow everyone to express thoughts and feelings

Often, we don’t feel we have choices, and we pile a lot of “shoulds” on ourselves: “I should do this” or “I should do that.” We feel we need to be strong and not break down. While it’s important to respect everyone’s unique ways of coping, acting as if you are always in control takes a lot of energy. Similarly, maintaining a positive attitude has many benefits, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot also express upsetting thoughts and feelings.

Keep expectations realistic to the situation

Living in this challenging time often forces us to examine our expectations. We need to recognize that everything has changed. As caregivers, we tend to keep going without recognizing that the demands of the situation require a different approach. We need to give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves.