Caring for someone with a degenerative illness can be challenging. We often feel as though we are in it alone, carrying this burden through our daily lives on our own.
This is why support groups are so important. For one thing, they help us realise that we are not the only ones going through the ups and downs of caring for an ill loved one. They provide the support we need from others in similar situations.
It can be daunting to ask for help, however getting support is the best thing we can do for our mental health. There is a sense of relief that comes with knowing that others are going through the same thing.
Support groups also provide a safe place to vent and express our feelings. Often we keep the frustrations and difficulties of caring for someone bottled up. Releasing these feelings can bring about healing for ourselves as we discover that not only is it okay to feel what we feel, but it’s safe to share those feelings in a forum with others who have a unique understanding of what we are going through.
These groups are also an excellent place for information to be shared. We may learn new things, find out what others are doing to help them cope and possibly even pick up some tips. Members of support groups are also helpful in sharing which books or organisations have provided them with support and insight.
Importantly, support groups contribute to reducing your feelings of helplessness and despair. They offer the opportunity to learn about ways to handle stress or stressful situations and you may even come away having learned something new about yourself. You can share how overwhelmed you feel, and perhaps come away feeling a little lighter.
HospiceWits understands the importance of support groups to one’s mental well-being. This is why they currently run two support groups every month to help those dealing with a loved one who needs extra care.
The cancer support group meets every first Saturday of the month between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The dementia support group meets every last Saturday at the same time. Both groups are limited to no more than 15 people and are held at HospiceWits, 50 Second Street, Houghton. The fee for each group is R150.