A quick review of the case study suggests the following central issues: The impact that a chronic illness has on a marital relationship, and the burdens of taking care of the spouse, the initial stages of grief and bereavement after their passing, the transition from having a long term partner, to widowhood, and the likely outcomes that the subject will experience during her transition from married, to widowhood, to single-hood. Impact of Chronic Illness on Marital Relationships
Chronic illness in anyone family can have many impacts, not only on the person who is ill, but on the family and care givers as well. More importantly, it can affect children and spouses’ emotionally and physically. In Clara’s case, there is a very high possibility that her relationship with her husband experienced a considerable change in relationship and sexual satisfaction. There have been studies done in the past that state, “Although spouses of chronic pain patients showed no more physical symptoms than spouses of diabetics, they reported significantly more pain symptoms that were related to elevated levels of depressed mood.” (Herta Florb, 2002) The depression felt because of her husbands chronic illness, is likely the reason why she pulled away from her family, and friends. She likely did not want them to see her in that state, and wanted them to think that she was strong, and could handle it. However, other parts of the studies have indicated that “not only is chronic pain associated with problems in the marital relationship but heightened distress and physical symptoms in spouses as well.” (Herta Florb, 2002) The effects are not so much the reality of a chronic pain problem, but instead a manner for paitents and spouses to cope with the situation. Burdens of care giving and the initial stages of grief and bereavement This leads us to the topic of the burden of caregiving. There is a large impact on ones emotional and physical well being. “Women’s greater focus on the emotional side of the caring relationship and on reaching standards of what they consider good care, …this is “not to be confused with how much a spouse cares about her partner” (Connidis, 2010, p. 88). In the case of Clara, there is an assumption that she cared deeply for her husband, but was focused on his needs, and taking care of him, and this may have put great strain, on their marriage, because she may have felt a sense of disdain in the final days of her husbands life. Possibly blamed him for her being out of touch with her family, and friends, and not having circle of people around her to help take care of her during the initial stages of grief and bereavement once her husband passes. There are generally 5 main stages of grief that someone feels when dealing with a loss, however when going through a loss as large as that of a spouse, it is more likely that one will go through each stage in a more defined way. Shortly after the death, there is the Numbness & denial – this is the feeling of shock and disbelief. Even though in Clara’s case she knew that this day would come, she still likely will have gone through this stage. The next stage is yearning & anger – this happens when the main shock has worn off, and one would long for the lost loved one, and one may even feel a sense of anger and thinking that there could have been something more that coul dhave been done. Next comes emotional despair & sadness- this is mostly a long period of tru bereavement. The point when the reality that that person, in this case Clara’s husband is truly gone. This brings one to the reorganization stage – this is when the widow will earn how to deal with practical businss of living, without your loved one at your side. This is also when the sun may start to shine a little more each day in ones life, and also a time when outside sources of support will likely be reeived with open arms. Lastly is the stage of letting go & moving on. This is often when the sadness starts...
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