To the horror of the "cancer" diagnosis is often followed by a long period of illness. "After one or two years of ups and downs, fear and hope, the partner dies", describes evelyn flohr-schmitt from the bavarian cancer society. Helping families from lower franconia after the death of a parent is the aim of the "nova" project, which was founded ten years ago from. Around 50 families have taken part in the guided bereavement group so far. On 26. January will start a new group.
At times, the long period of suffering of the cancer patient is experienced like a haunting. Again and again, chemotherapy treatments and hospital stays of the partner have to be endured. Then again, there are beautiful moments that give them courage and hope that everything will be all right after all. In the "nova" bereavement group the father and mother talk about how they coped with this time together with their children. And how difficult it was sometimes to deal with the children's reactions, which at first seemed incomprehensible.
For example, adolescents in puberty sometimes do not react at all to the consequences of chemotherapy in the way that adults would imagine. "It may happen that they feel ashamed in front of the others", according to evelyn flohr-schmitt. "They want to be normal at this age. And don't have a mom with a 'chemo head'."
Grief does not pass quickly
Pain and mourning proceed much more slowly than the environment would have liked. This is another experience that those affected often have, says waltraud stubenhofer from the wurzburger krisendienst, who reports to the "nova"-team angehort: "they trace the impatience of their fellow men when they are still grieving after months." Even the children are not allowed a long period of mourning, they soon have to go back to school function. But the grief does not go away so quickly. But children often grieve in a way that adults do not: "there can be outbursts of rage." Some children also start to soak again. Or they develop sleep disorders. Others suddenly become very clingy and suffer from separation anxiety. This should be responded to with a great deal of affection.
Roles must be redistributed
if a family suddenly becomes two or three, the roles have to be redistributed. More help may be required from the children. And mothers who used to take care of the children at home have to reorient themselves professionally, since they are suddenly forced to earn a living.
Fathers whose partners have died suddenly have a lot more educational work to do. Some had to deal with "school stuff never to do anything to the son or the daughter. Now they have to check homework and attend the parent-teacher conference. The families also discuss such problems at the monthly group meetings and on a weekend together. They give each other tips on how to cope with these everyday problems and give each other courage.
No smart tips
What families don't need is advice that others impose on them. The leaders of the group do not see it as their task to give wise tips. Sensible want to help them cope with loss and give their own lives a new direction after the death of their partner.
Evelyn flohr-schmitt and waltraud stubenhofer use a variety of methods to guide families through this difficult time. It is helpful, for example, to take a look at one's own "life trace" to envision. This is done with the help of colorful ropes. Each member of the family receives a different color rope. At important stations and junctions, a symbol is placed next to the rope tracks – a heart for being in love or a toy house for one's own home. At the end the own rope and that of the children runs out into the future.
After the death of a partner, the consequences can hardly be overlooked, and life with the children sometimes seems threatening or almost impossible to cope with. But somehow it goes on. The families also learn about this.
For most of them, the death of their partner was several months ago, for some even a year or two. What they have achieved during this time is usually only realized when they tell others about it. Sometimes tranes fall in love, says waldtraud stubenhofer: "that's allowed too. And there is at least as much laughter together."
The "nova" bereavement group
A new, guided bereavement group for families in which a parent has died of cancer meets from 26. January again monthly on a saturday. The meetings take place a total of five times from 10 a.M. To 5 p.M. In the rooms of the psychosocial cancer counseling center in wurzburg (luwigstrabe 22/II, entrance eichstrabe). At the same time, childcare is offered. At the beginning of august, the families spend a weekend together at burg wahrberg near aurach in the district of ansbach. Registration and further information are available from monday to thursday from 9 a.M. To 12 p.M. And on thursdays additionally from 2 p.M. To 3 p.M.30 o'clock under the telephone number 0931/280650 possible.
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