Acquired Immune Deficiency better knows, as AIDS is a virus that is affecting families all over the Unites States today. In a statistical study done by the United States Department of Health and Human Services they reported that “633,000 people were diagnosed with AIDS in 1997 and 393,416 deaths from the virus were reported” (United States). Although AIDS is not a very highly contagious disease like chicken pox, measles, or the pink eye it affects a great number of people and their families in today’s society.
When one’s family member first finds out about a loved one contracting the disease there are a range of reactions and emotions they go through. The first big reaction the family usually has is anger. The family members are not mad at the person that has contracted this terminal illness but at the situation they are in claiming that it is unfair. “No one regardless of how he or she becomes infected asked for or deserved this infection.
Steven Charles who became infected through sexual intercourse said ” Why me? I didn’t do anything wrong, I never hurt anyone, I was doing what seemed right to me” (Bartlett, p. ). These are many questions the victims usually ask themselves when they receive the news that they have contracted this virus. The family members on the other hand ask similar questions when they find out about a loved one contracting AIDS. They are very confused and they are searching for answers as to why this has happened to a perfectly good person? Why god is mad at them and doing this to their family? B. A May The next reaction that people and their family members have is depression. Depression is the feeling of being alone and helpless.
Many family members of a loved one that has contracted AIDS blame themselves and ask; why wasn’t I there to stop them, why didn’t I pick up on them using intervenes drugs? The victims of AIDS also go into deep depression. They feel lonely and alienated from their friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. They also think of taking drastic measures, which would be committing suicide, or just thinking about dying. Most victims try to be strong for their families. Lisa Pratt who’s husband is a victim of AIDS states, “I didn’t want to cry in front of my family.
I cried when I was alone in the car, and in the shower” (Bartlett, p. 84). When people feel this alone and helpless is it considered to be mild depression. These feelings can also lead into deep depression, which would include thoughts of dying and suicide. When a person starts to feel this hopeless and non-existent they need to seek professional help. They can not function daily with the feeling of hopelessness. With these feelings the victims and their family will soon become fatigued from lack of sleep. Family members and the victims next go through the stage of fatigue.
When you think of a person being fatigued you normally think of the physical aspect, but the family members and victims go through physiological fatigue also. The victims go through the physical fatigue first. Once they are depressed they lose hope they also lose their ability to want to get up in the morning. They are always dead tired, because they have no energy. The family members on the other hand are going through the physiological fatigue. They see their loved one wasting away day after day, and it mentally drains them.
The virus described by Lisa Pratt, who’s husband has AIDS, is “a B. A May series of little deaths” (Bartlett, p. 89). The people with this virus have to let the little things they used to love doing in life like mowing the grass, or hiking in the mountains go because they do not have the energy to do them anymore. When this starts happening to victims it frustrates them. What the family member needs to remind them is that they are doing the best job they can possibly do, and what they can not do today, maybe they will have the energy for it tomorrow. For victims of AIDS the saying don’t put off tomorrow for what you can do today does not apply.
They have to put things off for another day because they do not have the energy to complete all of their tasks in one day. The next reaction the families and victims go through is fear, fear that they are going through something that they can not control and can not get better. It is not like going through the flu, because this virus will not get better. The families also worry about their loved one suffering and dying. Some say that they do not worry about the member dying, but how they are going to die. They wonder if it is going to be a long suffering painful death or just one that is fast and un-painful.
When June goes with her son to the hospital, she feels fear: It is hard for me to see his friends who are also in the hospital. I think, what’s the last time going to be like for him? It’s so frightening” (Bartlett, p. 91). Fear is what causes a lot of problems for the family members and victims. Once fear has set into people it can cause someone to feel uneasy about everything they do in life, and sometimes people start to fear life. When fear is this bad in a persons life they must see a doctor or therapist to seek advice or medication that will help them. As the famous quote goes there is nothing to fear in life but fear itself.
B. A May The final emotion the families and victims experience is the feeling of guilt. The victim feels guilty for contracting the virus claiming that they should have practiced safe sex or not used drugs. The victim also feels guilty for bringing the disease home to their family members and putting them at risk for contracting it. “Many people also feel guilt about the behavior that put them at risk in the first place. The behaviors that exposed most people to the virus- gay lovemaking and intravenous drug use are behaviors of which society often disapproves.
For many people social disapproval is distressing, and they feel isolated and punished” (Bartlett, p. 94). People who are often struck as feeling guilty all of the time have trouble breathing, are nauseated, break out into cold sweats, have racing pulses, and have a feeling of being panicky most of the time. As you can see these are symptoms in which people can not live with on a daily basis. Medical attention should be given to anyone who has these symptoms. The victims and families need to learn to be comfortable with themselves and the people surrounding them.
Along with families going through all of the initial reactions of finding out a loved one has contracted AIDS families then have to emotionally prepare and accept the death of that family member. “Death is hard to think about, harder to face. The thought of death is slippery, difficult to focus on, surrounded by a cloud of pain and fear” (Bartlett, p. 258). No matter how positive a family member is every time you see a loved one that has a terminal illness and is dying all you can do is think about their time running out.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross stated that there are stages that occur when one is confronted with death: first there is denial, then anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. These stages are very true with a person who has contracted AIDS, and is B. A May also true for the family members of a terminally ill person. For family members who see their sick loved one every day struggling to survive it hurts them badly. They will do everything in their power to try to keep the dying person alive. Lisa Pratt said, “I was fighting to keep my husband alive. I just didn’t want to give up.
He said to me, don’t you know Lisa, it’s just one sickness after another. I said never mind, just keep fighting” (Bartlett, p. 268). This is one instance when a family member does not want to let go of their loved one. Soon or later they have to let go because the person with the illness is going to die, and after they are gone you have to finally accept their death and move on. According to Kubler-Ross it is important of the presence of loved ones in the final stages of anyone’s death. It helps to assure the person that is dying that everything is going to be all right.
In the words of Lisa Pratt “I think it helps them die” (Bartlett, p. 268). When thinking of the death of a loved one an anonymous writer wrote; when you were born you cried and the world rejoiced, live your life in such a manner that when you die the world cries and you rejoice. This is a wonderful quote when you think of people dying from terminal illnesses. It is very comforting to think that when a loved one dies that they rejoice. They rejoice because their body is worn out and tired and they are ready to pass on to the next level.