How Can I Help Her?

My loved one is having a hysterectomy. What can I do to help her through this time without adding to her anxiety?

There are many ways family members and friends can help their loved one who is facing a hysterectomy. For starters, simply being available can mean so much during this time.

Around this time, many women deal with extra anxiety and fear. This a major surgery that can affect a woman physically, emotionally, and mentally. She may be uncertain of the outcome and have doubts about whether or not she is making the right decision. Supporting her decision and helping her prepare can ease her mind. If you help her have control over her situation, her anxiety level could decrease as well.

Learn what you can about your loved one’s diagnosis and the type of hysterectomy she will be having. This will allow you to talk her about her specific situation. Most women need to talk about their concerns, and it's helpful to have someone who understands to some degree.

Help her prepare her home for surgery and recovery. Besides a deep clean, you might want to spruce up the room where she will be spending most of her time recovering. This might include a new coat of paint, a new furniture arrangement, or some new pictures on the wall. Having a sparkling clean house and a special place set up for her recovery can allow her to relax in the days leading to the procedure.

Take a day or two and cook some tasty meals that can be frozen until after her surgery. Doing this together can help her feel loved and help keep her hands occupied as she waits for her surgery date. It will also ease her mind to know that dinners will be taken care of while she is resting and healing.

Help her feel validated. While recovering from a hysterectomy, women are not able to take care of their usual chores and may need to ask for help with personal tasks. This can cause them to feel insignificant and useless. After a few days, find some small tasks she can do that will help her feel like a functioning part of the household while still staying within her recovery limitations. Folding small articles of laundry or matching socks can be perfect tasks. Asking her opinion about what to cook for her dinner and when to water her plants can help her have some sense of control over her own home even when she is unable to be up and about.

Another important way you can help is to allow her to express how she feels. The stress, trauma, and hormonal changes this surgery entails can cause women to go through a wide range of emotions while their bodies adjust and heal. Your loved one is likely to feel tired, sore, miserable, emotional, cloudy headed, anxious, and just plain different than normal. There's also a chance she could feel great and not feel like she needs much help. Whichever category she falls into, take her words at face value and treat her accordingly. Try to be extra patient, listen to her concerns, and offer her the help she needs when she needs it. If she pushes you away, try not to take it personally; she is going through a lot of changes right now.

Your loved one will only have one chance to heal right, so let her know you want to help her make the most of her recovery. Ask her what she would like you to do to help her during this time. Try not to assume anything, as what you think would be beneficial may not be what she has in mind. For instance, she may appreciate your answering and screening phone calls, or she may resent it. Likewise, helping her with showering could ease her mind about falling, or it could embarrass and upset her. Find out what tasks she wants you to help her with and which ones she needs to do on her own to allow her to keep her dignity.

There are also many simple little things you can do to comfort and help right now. Provide extra pillows and reading material for her. Keep her drinking glass full and offer her snacks every so often. Place things like a box of tissues, a blanket, and the TV remote(s) within easy reach. Offer her a hug now and then, and even a foot massage or two.

This can be a tough time for both your loved one and those of you trying to help. With some patience and kindness, however, you can be instrumental in helping your loved one through this difficult time.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.