Posted by: karenevoss | January 12, 2012

Listen with your Heart

“And when the road gets too long
I’ll be the rock you lean on
Just take my hand, together we can do it
I’m gonna love you through it”. -Martina McBride

How do you do it? How do you love someone through and with an illness, cancer, tragedy, or well hidden mental illness? How do you know where to begin?

Within my experience, you begin by listening. Listen to that person describe their diagnosis with even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Listen with your ears and your heart and ask questions later. When you get the chance to ask questions, be prepared to listen intently to the responses with an open mind. Listen With Your Heart.

Acceptance. When you love someone, you accept their illness. You show your support and express that you will be there for them. When Russ (my late husband, then boyfriend) explained he was bipolar with auditory hallucinations, I was confused. I knew our relationship would be a challenge, but my heart had already said, “you love him”. I reassured him I wasn’t going anywhere and I gave him a big hug. That was the real start of our love for each other.

Learn and adapt. Learn everything you can about what they are dealing with. Resources are abundant. Attend a doctor’s appointment to learn more while getting involved. Your life has changed and you will begin to adapt. You’ll develop a circle of support who will assist when the road gets too tough. Don’t worry if things aren’t perfect, a lot of things in life aren’t but you get through it.

Strength. When you’ve started seeing an illness for what it really is,  you feel tested. Will our love be strong enough? I often heard (and still do) in the day-to-day and more so after Russ passed away that I am a strong woman. I never knew whether each day would be a good day or a bad day. When bad days would combine, it was then my love and strength had to hold strong since those were the days Russ would talk about breaking up (this happened at least three times during our four years). He didn’t want me to feel burdened with his illness. I reassured him each time that we were stronger together and we’d make it through.

Love. Loving someone who is suffering and loving your relationship go hand-in-hand. You love strong enough to allow every emotion flow. Crying alone, silently, or with each other has its benefits, but so is laughing especially when it’s the only thing you can do. I remember the day Russ bought me a giant stuffed penguin and he tried to “hide it” under his coat; I loved trying to figure it out. Or the day a gift too big to wrap waited in the back of the SUV. It was an enormous (or egantic as he would say) white stuffed tiger. Now where was I going to put that? The tiger found a forever home just like Russ will always have a home within my heart.




  1. Never stop loving, and always remember that you are never alone.

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