Nursing is rewarding and challenging in ways that no other job can be. On a daily basis, nurses provide care and comfort to patients during the extreme highs and lows of life. Naturally, this sort of pressure can occasionally affect a nurse’s emotional health.
Because nurses face such unique obstacles, their families may be at a loss for words when trying to help. If you have a nurse in your family, how do you give that person the care they deserve? How can you help a helper?
The first step in caring for a nurse is to know how that individual copes with difficult days. Everyone has a different method for handling stress. Some nurses need to vent about what happened at work that day. On the other hand, some people need to forget about their problems by curling up with a good book. If you don’t know what works for your loved one, just ask. Sometimes, “What can I do to help you?” is all a nurse wants to hear.
If your family member wants to talk about work, actively listen. Soak in every word and ask questions as necessary. If you don’t understand a medical term, ask for a definition. This is a simple and effective way of letting your family member know that you care.
Supporting an introverted nurse is a different process altogether, but the goal remains the same: show compassion. One way to do this is to reduce your family member’s stress. You can offer to take over his or her household duties, draw a nice bath, or turn on a funny movie. The possibilities are endless; you just have to get creative.
In times of distress, it is also important to properly acknowledge your beloved nurse’s emotions. The loss of a patient can cause grief that you may not understand, but that grief is valid and important. Do not imply that these feelings are silly or misguided. Instead, try to understand why your family member might feel this way. You can try to walk a mile in a nurse’s shoes, but we all know they walk a lot more than that.
Finally, love the nurse in your family as fully as possible. Nurses pour themselves into caring for their patients, and it’s important that they are cared for with the same intensity. No matter how you show it, make sure your nurse knows they are loved and cared for deeply.