Her Resilience Makes Her My SHEro!
The impact of heart failure goes beyond the patient and the caregiver. If the patient is a parent, their children are also affected. How it affects them depends on a few things. First, it depends on the relationship between the parent and child before diagnosis. Second, the age of the child matters. Third, the cause of heart failure makes a difference. There may be other factors as well. However, what matters most is the child's resilience. The child’s resilience determines how they deal with life after diagnosis. My daughter's resilience makes her my SHEro!
What is resilience?
Resilience deals with how well someone overcomes serious hardship. The most important thing needed for a child to develop resilience is having at least one strong relationship with a supportive parent or caregiver. Other things also contribute to improved resiliency in children:1-3
- Having a sense of self-control, self-regulation, and self-efficacy
- Learning to cope with “manageable” stress to promote growth
- Participating in programs focusing on self-awareness, decision making, and relationships
- Using health-promoting activities, like exercise or stress-reduction practices
- Using faith, hope, and cultural traditions
The more resilient a person is, the better they are at handling stress. Ultimately, resilience in children is like having a superpower. Since the tender age of 8, my daughter has shown her superpower to the world.
An unbelievable challenge: the need for resilience after my heart failure diagnosis
At the time of my diagnosis, my daughter was only 8 years old. Although she wanted a sister, she embraced the birth of new little brother. Additionally, she earned straight A’s in school, and was captain of her cheerleading team. Life was great – or so she thought. Suddenly, I was in the hospital every other week for 3 months. Then, she came face-to-face with the awful truth. Unfortunately, her mother was in end-stage heart failure. Worse, she needed surgery or would only have months to live. Imagine! It was like going from sunshine into a hurricane! What was her life going to look like if her mother didn’t make it? Would her grades start to suffer? What about her views towards her youngest brother? Would she resent him for being born? The answers depended solely on her resilience.
A SHEro is born
The foundation for her strong resilience already existed. Her two adult brothers became “guardians” for her and the baby. Teachers became “surrogate” mothers. Church members and a mom from the cheerleading team provided cleaning services and meals. All of those supporting adults rushed to help. Furthermore, her skills from team sports and mentoring programs kicked in. With her foundation set, a SHEro was born! She never developed ill feelings towards her brother. She maintained her academic achievements and continues to receive top honors to this day. Amazingly she is even brave enough to share her experiences now, thereby serving an inspiration to others. She may not know it, but she is my SHEro! Her strength cannot be denied, and I’m so proud of her!
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