Tamara McClintock Greenberg, PsyD, MS


Feel entitled to an absorbing life

When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness

Hope and Help for Those Providing Support

February 2012, Plain Sight Publishing

Thanks to advances in science and medicine the lifespan of the average American is now longer than ever and many illnesses that once would have proven fatal have become manageable, chronic conditions. Great news, right? Sure, but there is another side to the 21st Century health picture—and it is increasingly becoming part of the lives of Americans.

Many more people are living with chronic illness and that means that more than ever family members, friends, and partners are impacted by the illness of someone they love. The average life expectancy in 1920 was around 54 years of age. Today it is between 76-80, though many of us can expect to live much longer—and to be the official caregiver or part of the care giving team for a loved one.

That’s why Tamara McClintock Greenberg, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating individuals with chronic illness and their families, wrote When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness: Hope and Help for Those Providing Support.

In this groundbreaking book McClintock Greenberg shows readers how to provide the best care and support for their loved ones, without losing themselves. When family, spouses, and friends are thrust into formal or informal caretaking roles they face a variety of psychological and physical challenges, and they often find themselves with little support and few resources. They also must address difficult issues such as non-compliance, denial, chronic pain and frustration on the part of their struggling loved one. No wonder, then, family members in a caregiver role have higher rates of depression and anxiety than those who aren’t involved in providing care. Vicarious trauma and “compassion fatigue” are common, as are feelings of guilt about having needs of their own and attempts to carve out time for themselves. Self-care can start to seem like a luxury that is out of reach. It’s easy to see how this exacts a steep toll on the caregiver, but new research also tells us that it impacts those being cared for. Studies now show that those who devote sufficient time and energy to their own needs provide better quality care than those who don’t. In other words, we provide better support when we pay attention to our own needs.

So, how can loved ones meet the demands of care giving without sacrificing self-care? Throughout When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness: Hope and Help for Those Providing Support McClintock Greenberg offers compassionate, authoritative, and step-by-step help for striking this critical balance. At the end of each chapter readers find a “coping checklist” that provides helpful, no-nonsense guidance on how to best address their loved ones’ needs and their own.


“Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg has taken on a timely and multi-leveled problem that every individual and family will face at some time in their lives. She combines human compassion with convincing and well-supported data that is applicable to so many situations people face when they, or their loved ones, lose their ability to continue life as it has been. Chronic illness requires that all people involved must face major transformations to survive these experiences intact. In my forty years of practice, I have rarely come across a patient who has not had to deal with this in some way. Dr. Greenberg manages to cover every viable and crucial aspect of this subject in a book that is at once both extremely helpful and emotionally touching.”

Randi Gunther, Ph.D.

Author, Relationship Saboteurs; When Love Stumbles

When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness is more closely tuned to the caregiver’s emotional needs than any I have read to date. It offers a prescription for how to BE in caregiving—what to say or not say, do or not do—fostering ease and flexibility in the most challenging moments. It gives family caregivers a way out of emotional bondage and into a doable caregiving journey.”

Holly Whiteside

Author, The Caregiver’s Compass and Exploring Hell; Other Warm Places

When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness is a valuable resource for anyone who is aging or has aging loved ones.”

Teressa Morris


“A fabulous book with clear explanations and tips for dealing with the illness of a loved one. I highly recommend this book for those dealing with chronic illness either as a patient but especially for those struggling with the illness of a family member or friend… I especially appreciated Greenberg’s summary of the culture of our current health care system and how best to deal with it. For example, she points out that doctors have so many obligations and patients to attend to they generally do not have time to engage in extended discussions about emotional reactions to health problems. She recommends that as either a patient or family member you take the initiative in terms of health care and come into an appointment with questions/concerns clearly in mind to discuss. She suggests treating doctor appointments as business meetings and to prepare accordingly. Great advice…”

Heidi Grange


“Dr. Tamara McClintock Greenberg has written a wonderfully illuminating and healing book for anyone who has to deal with a family member or loved one who suffers from chronic health problems. In down-to-earth language, she is instructive, validating, and immensely helpful in offering hope and support to those who have to care for others with a debilitating health-related illness. This is the first book of its kind that addresses the emotionally taxing and physical demands of attendant care with loved ones who also need support and respite. Without equivocation, this is one of the best self-help books on the market.”

Jon Mills, PsyD, PhD, C.Psych., ABPP

Professor of Psychology & Psychoanalysis, Adler Graduate Professional School, Toronto

“The author writes in a very understanding, easy to understand, engaging way. I felt as if I was sitting at the kitchen table sharing a cup of tea with her talking about things. She talks about how to deal with doctors, coping with a loved one’s pain, dealing with loss, talking about illness, getting support, addressing denial, post traumatic stress disorder, living longer, among many other topics.”

Tori Peterson


“The book When Someone You Love Has a Chronic Illness makes it so much easier to start the communication. I read the book first, and I thought that not only did it capture what I as a patient was going through; but more importantly, I was impressed with how clear and with how much compassion, the feelings of the spouse/caregiver were explained. My husband wasn’t even sure himself about what he was feeling; he was worried, he was angry, he was sad, and he was very overwhelmed. When he was reading the book, so many things all of a sudden made sense…! He understood most of my behaviors, conscious and unconscious, but mostly, and most importantly, he felt understood. He was able to say: “Yes, this is exactly what I have been feeling..!!”. That provided us the relief and the support we both needed so badly. Thank you for this gem of a book. I would highly recommend it to everyone who lives with, takes care of, or has a chronic illness.”