The meaning of being a middle-aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke, 1 month after discharge from a rehabilitation clinic
The sudden and unexpected impact of stroke may have a stressful affect on close relatives. To illuminate the essential meaning in the lived experience of a middle-aged close relative of a person who has suffered a stroke, narrative interviews were conducted with 10 close relatives of people who had suffered their first stroke where both parties were aged over 18 and under 65. A phenomenological-hermeneutic interpretation of the narratives was then conducted. Three intimately intertwined themes emerged during the analysis: ‘being called to mission’, ‘feeling lost and set adrift’ and ‘struggling to keep going’. The middle-aged close relatives felt unreflectively duty bound. There was a struggle with suffering and enduring the process of coping with life and overcoming a feeling of helplessness. Life turned out to be a struggle with overwhelming feelings. They felt alienated in a restricted life situation, disconnected from themselves and others, and from a world that supports feelings of being lost and set adrift (i.e. feeling homeless). Strength was found in moments when the situation improved, in being related to oneself and others, and when feelings of normality were regained.