When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, I didn’t know anyone in my situation. I was 40, working full time, and raising our 5-year-old. I was lucky to have wonderfully supportive family, friends, and colleagues. Still, no one really understood what it was like. At times, it was very isolating. I sometimes questioned myself and wondered if I was doing enough. Other times, I felt so fatigued by cancer and was tired of our whole lives being about this disease. Later I felt guilty for being so selfish and focused on my problems instead of his. Mostly, I worried about the future and how we would get through it all. My life felt like it was no longer mine.
A couple of years into our 5-year journey, my husband and I discovered life coaching and eventually joined a coaching program. What we learned during that time was life-changing. So much so that we both decided it was what we wanted to do as well. We wanted to help other couples facing a cancer diagnosis and teach them all we were learning about how to manage their mind and process their emotions.
We both started the life coach training and certification process, but my husband’s condition worsened, and he had to withdraw. I went on to get certified, and a few months later, my husband passed away. I never gave up on our dream, and 18 months after he passed, I changed careers and started my own life coaching business, focusing on offering coaching for caregivers.
I know how difficult it is for the spouse of someone facing cancer. I also know that while this time is difficult, it can be one of deep connection and growth once you learn the tools to cope and how to uncover your inner strength–something I teach through caregiver coaching.
What Does a Caregiver Coach Do?
Every caregiver coach is unique in their approach to helping caregivers. As a caregiver coach for you when your partner has cancer (or any serious diagnosis), I focus on helping you find balance, strength, and even a little bit of joy during this trying season.
A Caregiver Coach Helps You Regain Your Strength
Being a caregiver is mentally, emotionally, and often physically exhausting. Mentally, you are making decisions, facing uncertainties, and coping with constant worry and anxiety. Emotionally, you are on a roller coaster feeling relieved and hopeful one day and fearful and sad the next. You never know what’s coming, and sometimes the sadness or fear can feel overwhelming. And physically, you are often taking over things around the house your partner used to do or incorporating appointments and extra things into an already busy schedule.
Being a caregiver for your spouse is a job few of us are prepared for. But often, what we need is simply a new set of tools for the job. A caregiver coach will teach you the tools to cope in these areas. They will show you ways to understand and shift your thinking, process your emotions so that they don’t exhaust you, and prioritize and adjust your life to new demands.
A Caregiver Coach Helps You Get Back in Control of Your Life
When your partner is facing a cancer diagnosis, so much of life can feel out of control. Gone are all your plans for the future. Now, you are facing a life that is not what you expected. This is one of the most challenging parts of this journey; dealing with things that aren’t in your control. Handling this uncertainty is hard, and sometimes you will feel completely powerless.
A caregiver coach will help you clearly see the things you can’t control while also learning to focus on the areas you can control. This is not as simple as it may seem, as we tend to spend all our energy trying to fix things like our partner’s health and their pain, only to feel exhausted and defeated. But by learning to let go of the areas where you don’t have control and instead focus on where you do, you start to feel back in control of your life again.
A Caregiver Coach Helps You be the Rock You Want to Be
I know you want to be strong for your partner. I did too! But sometimes, that feels like an impossible goal when inside you are full of worry, anxiety, and sadness. Often, those feelings may threaten to overwhelm you. The last thing you want is for your partner to see how worried and scared you truly are!
The key to being strong is not to deny your feelings of fear and sadness but rather to open up to and acknowledge them. A caregiver coach will provide a safe and judgment-free place for you to express all your worries and emotions, so they don’t continue to weigh you down. Then, you can show up strong for your partner when they need you most.
What Does Coaching for Caregivers Look Like?
Again, caregiver coaching is going to look different depending on your coach. I offer three ways to work together, depending on how much support you feel you need.
Raise Your Resilience 1:1 Coaching Program
My 90-day 1:1 foundational coaching program is customized to your situation and needs. It includes 12 weeks of individual coaching sessions coupled with video lessons to help you develop your resilience skills and work through all the challenges that arise during this time. This is the program for you if you want individual support on this journey. What you will learn and the skills you will gain will change your life.
Self-Paced Video Course
In this self-paced course, you will learn the foundational skills of becoming stronger & more resilient. Receive instant access to 4 easy-to-follow modules that teach you the 4 key resilience habits you need to help you be the ROCK you want to be for yourself and your partner without the fear and worry. Plus, it includes 2 individual coaching sessions as well as other tools for the specific challenges you face as a caregiver.
Free Facebook Group
Join my Facebook group and connect with others who have a partner with cancer. I am active in the group and post thought-provoking, inspiring, and helpful content weekly. I also go “live” each week with a short training on how to build resiliency skills.
What Do Caregivers Need Coaching On?
Every person’s experience as a caregiver is different. Some people have been doing it for years and are burnt out. Others are in shock, emotionally and mentally paralyzed by their spouse’s new diagnosis and can’t seem to put one foot in front of the other. And still, others may have received the news that their partner is terminal and are struggling with overwhelming shock and grief. Regardless of where you are, these are the most common themes and topics I cover with clients during our caregiver coaching sessions.
1. How to Handle Overwhelming Emotions
Most of us are ill-equipped to handle difficult emotions and are taught by society that we shouldn’t feel bad. No wonder we struggle when faced with the complex emotions that come up when our partner has cancer! Through coaching, I teach you what emotions actually are and how to recognize their triggers and feel them, so they don’t drown you.
2. What to Do with the Constant Worry and Uncertainty
Our brains go crazy with all the fears and worries during this time. But during coaching sessions, you will learn that you are not your thoughts, in fact, you can separate yourself from them and see them. You will discover that the more you do this, the less taken you become by your negative thinking.
3. How to Support Yourself
Caregivers often put themselves last. Unfortunately, this is the quickest way to burn out and develop your own health challenges. I teach clients how to support themselves by balancing their care with their partner’s. What’s more, you will learn that the better you care for yourself, the stronger you will be for your partner.
4. How to Support Your Partner
Many people struggle seeing their partner in pain and desperately want to try to fix it for them. I will teach you how to actually support your partner in a way that works and supports you as well!
5. How to Communicate with Friends, Family, and Your Children
You are not the only one affected by your partner’s diagnosis. Your friends, family, and children will have their own response to this situation. I help you learn to understand what might be going on for others in your life and effective strategies for how to handle it. This will help relieve some of the stress that can come from these relationships.
Is Caregiver Coaching Right for You? Let’s Find out Together!
You are strong, capable, and resilient. You can get through this, and I’m here to support you every step of the way. If you want to learn more or have any questions about working with me as your caregiver coach, schedule a free coaching consultation to discover the next best steps for you!