There’s nothing quite so terrifying and exhausting as having a loved one in the hospital. Whether it’s an emergency situation or an illness that has been slowly progressing, nothing quite prepares us for the hours of keeping vigil, of processing all the information coming at us from professionals, and of balancing the rest of life. Even exciting events, like the birth of a baby, are emotionally and physically draining, even though everyone is happy! When we find ours dearest friends and family in the hospital, there are a few things we can do to keep ourselves above water.

Take care of yourself

You are the most help to your loved one when you are at your best. Allow yourself to go home to sleep (at least every couple of days). Make yourself get out of the hospital, if only for an hour or two to run errands. Make sure you eat properly and exercise!  Give your mind and your soul a tiny break away from the fluorescent lights and stressful atmosphere of the hospital, so you can come back reinvigorated and prepped to help.

Stay positive but realistic

This is a tough one. You want to stay positive, but you also don’t want any nasty surprises coming your way. Frankly and calmly, ask your loved one’s doctor about the realistic chances of recovery as well as what issues may come in the future. If the prognosis isn’t great, remember that there can still be positive moments, and you want to help your loved one feel as happy, loved, and cared for as possible. Your positive attitude will help carry him or her through, even to the end.

It’s essential, of course, to stay informed about your loved one’s condition. The best way to do this is to communicate with his or her doctor or the nurse. It’s great to have a working knowledge of the condition and terms, but the Internet will not be able to inform you as to one person’s specific situation.


If you have a lot of family with you at the facility, pick one person to be the point person. This way, staff don’t have to repeat themselves over and over when they update you on the situation. If your family has any concerns, hold a conference and then let the communication come from your spokesperson, rather than five different aunts and uncles. If any person in your family has a medical background, he or she is the prime candidate for this job.


It can be an asset to have an advocate on your team. It’s tough enough trying to balance visiting your loved one, arranging care logistics, and keeping your emotions in check. Adding to that the stress of wading through the legal and financial waters of healthcare costs, and any legal questions that may come up, and you may soon be over your head. You will want a lawyer or counselor who can help you navigate the system. Even if you aren’t in the midst of a major medical crisis right now, it’s worth talking to an attorney about planning for the future in regard to a retirement or nursing home for yourself or a loved one, managing your assets, and putting things in place.

Be Sociable, Share!