Stress & illness

Continuing with my journals on stress, illness can be a major contribution of stress. Being told that you or a loved one has an illness that may or may not be life threatening can bring fear and uncertainty into the equation.

The feelings I had when my mother was told she had lung cancer was one of disbelief. The more I thought about her, the more dread I felt. I also knew I wasn’t good at being around illness and although I’m very spiritual and I understood her illness and wasn’t scared to lose her, seeing her deteriorate in front of my eyes unnerved me.

For my mother, dealing with her illness must have brought about uncertainty and stress for her. With a terminal illness, the obvious challenges are the physical pain and tiredness that come with the illness. Then there are the feelings of despondency, as the illness changes our appearance physically.

I know my mother coped even less when her appearance began to change. Although her friends understood she was ill, my mother didn’t cope well with that. She was losing control of her looks, her positive self-image disappeared. She became more isolated and eventually she withdrew from seeing friends.

Life changing experiences such as illness can bring about a loss of control and anxiety by association. Worries about the financial implications and not being able to work, bring about more stress. Stress brought about through illness can lead to anger, frustration and in some cases depression.

My family, were catapulted into a different world as soon as my mum got her diagnosis. Although the changes were happening to my mum, her family we were embroiled in it too. Helping her cope and helping each other cope, whilst having to cope emotionally wasn’t easy.

My mum was an inspiration to all of us throughout her illness. She stayed in control of her thoughts, never moaned or asked “why me?” She bore her illness with dignity and just got on with her life as much as she could.

The spiritual ties I talk about in my journals, we’re my mum’s beliefs too. I think that helped her stay calm. It helped me understand why. She was inspirational that way.


2 Oct, 2010

6 thoughts on “Stress & illness

  1. I remember when my mother got sick with terminal cancer, she had her operation on my birthday.

    The doctors told her she had 3 to 6 months to live. She never told her children. The one thing that really bothered her was her hair she had to go back to her natural colour, which was grey. Because of the chemo she could not have her hair dyed. It was done after she died so sad.

    I found out from my father she was dying. She did not want us to know. It was a very stressful year. She died 9 days after I turned 49. The year she was ill was the most stressful of my life. Nothing compares to it.

    You are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. In the end my mother grew very tired of being ill and doctors. But one good thing she did not die alone or in pain. My father his brother, and his wife and I were there when she passed away.

    1. Randy, I am pleased your mother had her family around her as much as it must have been hard to watch her deteriorate. I must admit I’m not brilliant at that. Although I understand the spiritual concept, it’s very hard to watch.

  2. One other thing. My mother was a fighter and gave it everything she had to stay alive. She never complained about being in pain. Thank God we had help to cope with her illness it was very overwhelming at times. The hardest part was not knowing what was going to happen.

    1. Yes illness can be overwhelming at times, for the one who is ill and the family who have to cope. I think when we are told about illness, we have determination, then as soon as the illness progresses we lose a little bit of it. It also very much depends on the illness.

  3. I struggled so much when my father died. He was diagnosed in October and passed on in February. I think he just gave up. I watched him wither away.

    The man I looked up to all my life and there wasn’t anything I could do to help him. I knew everything that was happening with him because I’m a nurse but there was no way for me to help him get better. I’m not bitter about it because he is better now.

    Thanks to my faith I know he is better. I had a dream after he passed and he was happy holding my baby I had lost several years earlier… and I know he is with me everyday. It was stressful on me and my problems got a lot worse but I didn’t complain, cause I knew my dad was suffering more than me.

    I loved my dad so much and miss him terribly, but I know he is still with me.

    1. It is hard watching a loved one ‘wither away,’ but you are right Lisa, he is better now, I believe that one hundred per cent… and yes he is still with you.

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