My experience as a youth of family members with severe illnesses have been profound and life shaping. Although they are not experiences that are rare, they do not parallel with the experiences of others. As shown here, they are unique and mirror multiple identities developed in a child’s young life. My story began years ago when I was sitting in the living room cuddled up under my soft, worn-out, bear blankie on a brisk fall day when the phone rang. Upon interrupting my Spongebob marathon, I answered the phone. “Hello?” Immediately my mom picks the phone up in the other room, “Sam, hang up the phone, I need to talk to Aunt Sandy.” Resuming my Nickelodeon marathon, the house became uncomfortably quiet. Aunt Sandy called to tell our family …show more content…
I particularly struggled in understanding what mental illness was. My mother explained it as “Paul didn’t want to live on earth anymore, he wanted to be in heaven.” Little did I realize at the time that Paul was a severe alcoholic and drug abuser. My mom would tell me that “he wanted to make himself feel better on the inside.” Paul was a father and desperately wanted to change for his family and took the steps to get help. Upon his many attempts of getting clean, each and every time failed and his relapse became worse. I bothered my mom for days before the funeral wanting to know more about what happened but she was too upset to tell me. I came to terms with my curiosity about Paul and let it go until after the funeral. A black and white polka-dot dress that puffed out when I twirled was what my mother dressed me in for the funeral. I remember the silence of the funeral home with many whispers in the background. “Its so sad how he died…” “I can’t believe he would do something like that.” “But he was doing so well…” Repeated phrases commonly noted when listening in on some adults conversations. My curiosity arose again on what really happened. And why was Paul wearing a turtleneck shirt in his casket? Paul hated turtleneck shirts… So on the car ride home I pestered my mom into telling me more. My mother tried to explain to me that Paul was in a rehabilitation center trying to get clean and to only take medications in the
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
That day when I returned home from school, my mom’s boyfriend called me asking to speak to my grandmother. Typically, Gus would call my grandmother himself if he wanted to speak with her, which was rare. I found out about my mom going to the hospital from my grandmother after that phone call. The doctor told my family that a stroke afflicted her in the middle of the day. My mom confused the date with her birthday, had trouble getting words out and remembering our family member’s names. The nurse had to take her for walks periodically and exercise her legs and arms because they were weak. Seeing my mother in this condition made me appreciate my mother and everything she does for me tremendously. However, I was terrified for my mother’s health.
Throughout the essay “New Perspective” by: Janice E. Fein, she explores in immense detail how she suffered as a child who grew up with a mother that was very ill. She explains the hardships she underwent and expressed how she felt “cheated in life”. As a small child she could only remember her mother walking her to kindergarten once, as she describes in the essay, but after that she could only remember her mother laying in a “massive” and “ugly” hospital bed. As a child, its difficult sometimes to understand and grasp complicated situations like this. Most of the time children only hold one perspective of things, their own. Fein discusses the impact her mother’s illness had on her childhood and how it taught her later on in life when she became
As a Childlife volunteer at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA I felt the warmth and fulfillment of helping others during times of ill-health. Every week I would join a team of volunteers to spend time with the children and give their parents someone to talk to. Jacob, a soft-spoken 6-year-old, stays particularly close to my heart. Living in the hospital for numerous weeks had seemed to extinguish his childish exuberance. Whenever I tried to engage him he would simply turn away with a glum look upon his face. Making sure not to reveal my inner thoughts of pity, I
My brother Dakota’s death is a challenge that I face every day. I watched mental illness slowly take each piece of my brother’s mind away until he was a body with a shattered soul. I watched as my mother sobbed after hearing that he attempted suicide, which he attempted two times to my knowledge, but I suspect it had happened more. Finally, I watched as my own father’s façade cracked under the pain of Dakota’s final attempt at suicide on the island of St. Croix. My family was pummeled with pain, grief, and sorrow for two whole years in the time leading to and surrounding my
In 2011, my brother was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis which affected my entire family including myself. He went through many surgeries, many of which made it quite impossible for me to see him given that I was only 11 years old, and everything on that level in that hospital was contagious. Throughout, this period in my life my mother was always busy and I learned to slowly do my things on my own. Although it sounds crucial, I didn’t expect much from my mother given that she basically lived in the hospital. I fell into depression because my brother was my best friend and I couldn’t accept that he was in so much pain. I learned to overcome depression and slowly learned that life shouldn’t be taken for granted and I should believe in myself.
Children can be an unseen ghost as they walk silently in the footsteps of their dying parent. Having a serious illness in the family creates its own kind of culture; the culture of the “sick family”, where an illness takes the lead as the most important player in the family. Children who are used to being the first consideration in most homes suddenly take a far second to dealing with the illness. They are often left out of important discussions and shielded from seeing the sick or dying parent and many of their basic needs are left poorly met. In the emotional chaos of critical illness children are often believed to be unaware of what is actually happening, and are forced to either find emotional support from someone outside the family or hurt alone. Julie Orringer in her short story titled
A child is not their disease, neither is their family. However, it is often difficult for them to disconnect their self from the detrimental effects of it. In spite of the fact that the majority of the American population appears quite healthy, over 32 million children are currently suffering from a chronic illness. According to njhealth.org, chronic illness is “an illness that may last throughout a person’s life, although the frequency and severity of symptoms can change.” Nearly 43% of American children are currently afflicted with at least 1 of many chronic ailments ranging from diabetes to cancer. Many of these children may never return to their precedent state of well-being; physically, emotionally, socially, and psychologically. During such horrific times as these it is important to remember that the children are not the only ones suffering; their family is as well.
My mother found out she was pregnant with me at the age of twenty in a free clinic in Orlando, Florida. The first few years of my life I observed many situations a child should not, such as substance abuse and domestic violence. There were constant struggles my family and I endured due to harmful decisions made by my parents. A night I clearly remember is the night my father overdosed in our home when I was six. I remember all too well the screeching coming from my mother, the reflection of ambulance lights in the kitchen windows, and my older sister holding me protectively from the view of first responders trying to resuscitate my father. Most of all I remember the paramedic who took time to explain what was happening in gentle, child-like terms. After that night, my parents began recovering from their years of drug abuse and building a better life, however struggles remained. When needed, I had a family doctor who would instead of writing a prescription, would instead give my
A 6-year-old girl was diagnosed with stage IV anaplastic Wilms’ tumor and had to undergo experimental chemotherapy, with less than a 5 percent chance of curing the deadly disease. Sadly, the personal account of this young child is highlighted in “Tell the Children” in the Journal of Clinical Oncology—written by Joanne Hilden, Jan Watterson, and Jody Chrastek, all from a hospital’s department of Hematology/Oncology. Not only does this young girl have to fight a relentless cancer, but she has to also go through this battle without understanding what she is dealing with. Hilden, Watterson, and Chrastek states that the parents were offered help in explaining to their daughter and her sister what may possibly happen: hospice (3193). Unfortunately, the parents’ response was, “We do not want the children told about this. Children should not have to deal with death. They should be free from that for as long as possible. We will answer what they ask, but we will not tell them what is happening or that our daughter is dying, and we do not want you to tell them, either” (3193). As a result of non-existent communication between the parent and the child, the young patient experienced a great deal of suffering and confusion. The parents declared that their child was comfortable; although, as time went on the child actually admitted to staff that she was, indeed, in pain (3193).
This is amazing account of the Johnson family, an unwavering glimpse at the disorder going on within, the distinctiveness of pain and how a community of family supporters, associates and specialists support a young woman through her sickness. Stories teach us, becoming roadmaps for those who are struggling through illness or who recognize someone with a disease. This book is more like a non-traditional memoir, and is narrated in the voices of a daughter and mother. Together the breaks open a wall of stillness of an American family that is middle class. This family who by all exteriors, were fortunate, well-educated and gifted but whose lives were thrown off course by the emotional turmoil of adolescent daughter Linea.
When I turned 11-years-old my whole childhood began to change my life went from being perfect to everything but perfect. One day I came home to hear the news my father, my best friend; my hero was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. Not knowing the struggle my family was about to take on I just began to cry. I had a million things running through my head what’s going to happen? Will everything be okay? Why him? What is going to happen? With all these things rushing through my head all I could do was cry not knowing this was least worse to come.
Not to say that using different methods of approach will cause parents to have all positive thoughts but instead, attempt to focus their family on an optimistic outlook. One of the biggest obstacles in the beginning of this journey is telling their child that they are sick. A mother-daughter duo who has experienced cancer first hand writes a book, explaining how parents should handle the situations presented to them. In the opening, when a parent talks to their child, Woznick and Goodheart advise, “Tell them over and over again that they did NOT cause the cancer by any means” (Woznick 8). Although this news can be the turning point onto an emotional rollercoaster, there are many outlets to aid the family in overcoming these obstacles and making it as easy and painless as possible.
While most children grew up with healthy parents, I grew up with my grandparents and assisted with their care. I witnessed my grandfather have a stroke that affected his speech and his ability to walk, and my grandmother develop Alzheimer’s disease. This childhood affected me greatly because they were my parents and I hated to see them going through the difficulties of aging. I noticed how vulnerable they became, these people that I watched and admired unable to speak and walk changed how I viewed the world and patient care.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on physical illness and how it affects the family unit. Physical illness commonly leads to both distressed family relationships and romantic relationships in the household (Wetchler & Hecker, 2015). This special topic made me think about the impact of a child’s chronic physical illness on the family unit. Aside from the strain on the child, parents of children with chronic illness report symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as conflict and monetary strain due to inconsistencies at work (Distelberg et al., 2016). These mental health symptoms in combination with the stress of providing could cause a significant strain on the marriage, further compounding family functioning. I have personally see pediatric