How to Cope When a Family Member is Sad
Everybody gets sad every once and a while, but sometimes people get sad for prolonged periods of time that can last for days, weeks or even months. This is something that has been labelled by doctors as depression. If this is something that one of your family members is suffering from, whether it be your sister, brother, mother or father, or even your aunt or uncle or cousin, you may feel affected by it. Commonly, family members who are depressed may isolate themselves from the rest of the family or seem to always be in a bad mood. Sometimes, as someone who cares about that person, you might start to take their bad mood or their distance as though it is due to something that you’ve done, so you might find yourself taking the blame for it. As soon as you realize that you are starting to feel differently around that person and to have feelings of guilt or blame, you need to talk to someone so you are not negatively affected.
You will feel some negative feelings as a result of your family member’s suffering because you care about them, but you need to be sure that you will not fall down with them. In order to cope with a depressed family member, the first thing you want to do is firmly implant the belief in yourself that you are not to blame for whatever they are going through, that what they are going through is entirely their own issue, and something that you will not be able to solve. The second part is very important. You need to be sure that you believe that you are not responsible for their healing. It is not your responsibility to ensure that your family member recovers from their period of depression. You may still care a lot about them, and you may still wish them the very best, but it is by no means your responsibility to ensure that they get happy or get back to being themselves.
Once you believe that you are not to blame and are not responsible for their healing, you can develop more practical measures for coping with their illness. Try strategies like being out of the house when they are home and spending time with friends who care and support you. Having friends that you can confide in about the situation that your family member is in will be essential for nourishing your belief that you are not to blame and that you are not responsible for their recovery. You want to be sure that you are well supported in order to ensure you do not fall into feeling guilty or even depressed yourself. Also, connecting with other members of the family about the issue, if possible, is great for supporting yourself because this is something that is affecting everyone in your family, not just the person who is depressed.
If you feel you need someone else to talk to, you can always call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or talk to them online at www.kidshelpphone.ca