A courageous family dealing with chronic illness build a holistic connection

Sherry Flemming works with families to understand their concerns, look for strengths and missed opportunities to help them manage their stresses. In her experience, taking a well rounded approach that connects the physical, emotional, and social needs of the family helps to open their heart to change.

One family Sherry worked with had a child suffering from chronic health issues. She could see that the focus had been primarily on the child’s physical health. This prevented the family from connecting and communicating with each other. “The healthcare was there, but the emotional and social pieces had been missing,” Sherry says. 

Sherry proposed facilitated meetings where she could support meaningful conversations between them and give them space to engage with their fears outside of the medical issues in their life. She would introduce questions like “What is something meaningful to you? What’s on your heart? What is something you would like them to know that you haven’t said?”. This shifted things away from the medical regimen to instead look at each other and express their feelings. The mother in particular was able to vocalize her fears about her child’s future and wellbeing, something she had been suppressing in order to put on a brave face. The youth, in turn, was appreciative of these facilitated talks because they could better understand their parents’ emotions and feel more comfortable expressing their own.

“A lot of the affirmations that came out of those conversations were that sometimes we assume other people know what we’re thinking and understand what’s happening with us,” says Sherry. “But sometimes, we just really need to hear it.”

The primary goals for this family were increased communication and connection; the secondary goal was consistent family time, which facilitates the primary goals. The mother expressed immense gratitude for Sherry’s role in helping them connect all these pieces in meaningful ways after so many years of dealing with just the medical conditions. Through this holistic approach, Sherry recognized the family’s resilience and supported them finding a place where they could learn and reflect together. They are also reviewing and reassessing their goals to see what they can do to improve next. Sherry facilitated the process for holding a safe space where everyone could be heard, listened to and valued.

“For the family, it’s all there,” says Sherry. “My role is just to make those connections and help facilitate the beauty that’s already there.”