It can be hard for family members of people on long-term sick leave.
A changed daily life
The world can tend to focus on the person who is ill and forget that the lives of their family members has also been changed. It affects your life and routine when someone close to you is on long-term sick leave, regardless whether the cause is physical or psychological.
Be patient and adjust your expectations of the person who is ill. Maybe for a time he or she cannot contribute at the same level as before, and you can assist by creating the space to accommodate this.
Depending on how long the illness lasts, the person will be called to meetings and will need to fill out various forms, for example, from the Job Centre. When you are ill this can seem insurmountable, even though it is normally something you can cope with.
You can help to create an overview, explain what is required and perhaps sit alongside as support when the ill person completes the paperwork.
Help to see opportunities
Social events can seem overwhelming when you are sick.
As a relative, you can help the ill person to find out what it takes to make them feel comfortable to participate.
A little effort = a great help
As a family member it can be hard to realise that the ill person does not think and act in the way they usually do.
Remember that what may seem simple to you can seem insurmountable for a person who is ill.
Which is why a small effort from you can make a huge difference to the ill person.
As a family member you can offer to accompany the person to meetings, either instead of or together with a union representative, for example.
In this way you can help the person communicate their own situation and help remind them afterwards about what was agreed.
You may be so busy helping that you forget yourself
It can be very draining to be a family member of a person who is ill. Although you are not the one who is ill your daily life has been transformed and while the ill person is going through a major process of change your life changes too.
Sometimes it can even feel like a relief to get away from the ill person, for example, by going to work.
You might feel guilty about this but it is a natural reaction and nothing to be afraid of.
Remember to recharge
You need to get away once in a while and think about something else, so that you can recharge your batteries.
Be sure to use your own support network of friends and family, and set some time aside for doing things you enjoy.
In this way you can return to the ill person with renewed energy and things may not seem quite so difficult any more.
Living with someone who is ill can sometimes make it hard to see any development.
In those moments where it seems as though time has stood still, it is important to focus on the progress that has been made.
Get answers to your questions
You may have questions you cannot ask the ill person and that require a professional answer. You may have difficulty knowing how best to help or you are worried about the prognosis.
Ask the person who is ill if it is okay to accompany them to treatment to see what goes on.
Perhaps agree a special meeting with a doctor or psychologist together with the person, where the focus is on you as a family member with an opportunity to be heard and to air your concerns.
This can strengthen the feeling that you share the burden instead of each of you bearing their own alone.
Even the small things count
It can be hard to notice when you are in the middle of it but force yourself to list the things that have improved.
Remember that even though there is sometimes a lull in progress - or even small relapses - it does not mean that you start over, or that the recovery so far has been insignificant.