Empowering Families

Healthcare professionals who understand chronic sorrow can help family members implement effective coping strategies to deal with ongoing stressors. Coping strategies empower families to help meet all of its members’ needs, solve problems, and mobilize resources to support the health of the ill child.

Parents who deal with chronic sorrow report that they receive the most benefit from healthcare professionals who act as a teacher or expert. Here are some ideas healthcare professionals can use to help empower families:

  • Provide family members with honest, accurate and easy to understand information that is disease-specific. Include practical tips for caring for the chronically ill or disabled child.
  • Encourage parents to take advantage of the information resources available at many children’s hospitals.
  • Provide recommendations for support groups and help families network with other parents.
  • Offer information about chronic sorrow to help parents and caregivers understand some of the emotions they may be experiencing. Let them know that at times they may feel sad and have the urge to cry (anticipatory guidance).
  • Share positive coping strategies that other parents have found helpful. This may help them feel less alone and out of control.
  • Provide phone numbers and contact information for available social services, respite programs, nursing agencies and governmental programs.
  • Let parents and caregivers know ahead of time that certain, predictable situations may trigger feelings of sadness. Just knowing about something ahead of time can be very helpful.