Wait! I feel sad.

It seems a bit silly to even have to say this, but when our Loved One is diagnosed with a chronic illness, it can make us feel sad.

It sounds ridiculous. Of course when someone is sick it is going to make us sad. But I genuinely believe it’s not that simple. At least it wasn’t for me. Here’s why.

Why sad is difficult

  1. Sad is not what we expect

I think perhaps it’s rarer than we think to be simply sad. Often we are angry or bitter or frustrated as well as sad. To be simply sad – without being off the walls angry, or stressed, or even without questioning life and existence, is somewhat unique.

The feeling might not last long. It might not have come to you yet.

But when it does, it can be difficult to respond to.

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Wait! I feel guilty.

They are sick and I am not.

I can leave the house. They cannot.

I can eat anything I want. They must not.

Guilt is an emotion that it is easy to struggle with after a diagnosis of chronic illness. When we as Watchers see how the illness is impacting our Loved One’s lives, and envision how it will continue to impact their lives,… the guilt creeps in.

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Wait! I don’t know how to answer all their questions.

Answering questions about your Loved One takes a lot of getting used to.

Watching is unique in that people always have something to talk to you about.

Watching means that you, your Loved One, and their sickness, become common ground. All of a sudden topics that under normal circumstances would require sensitivity, caution, a relationship or ‘easing into’ become a free for all.

And that’s hard to get used to. It never really becomes normal. People will always expect you to be able to answer deep, painful questions at a drop of a hat. Questions like:

How are you feeling?

Is it hard having a mum/dad/sibling/spouse/friend who is sick all the time?

How is your Loved One?

Does your Loved One get depressed?

Does your Loved One know that you find their illness hard?

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Wait! I don’t know how to break the news.

Being told your Loved One has a chronic sickness, either physical or mental, is devastating.

Telling someone else can be even harder.

It is excruciating. And the problem is, we all have more than one person in our lives. And so we are forced to tell the same sad story again and again.

This is not a post with a lot of answers. I’m not sure there are answers. But sometimes, empathy is enough. I pray that is the case here. For you. For me.

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Wait! This is chaos.

Make it go away. I hate you. I don’t want to talk about it. It’s okay, I don’t care. Leave me alone. I love you.

Beginning to Watch

For some people diagnosis comes quickly, a lightning spring shower swooping out of nowhere, tearing the sky apart. One moment they are healthy and happy – and the next they’re crying in pain and fear. For others it’s gradual, like following a paper trail, picking up pieces of the puzzle one at a time until everything makes sense, and the sneaking suspicion is confirmed.

Sometimes we as Watchers are there in the moment of discovery, we are following them down the path and scrunching the clues damply in our hands. I have been there. Other times we arrive in the middle or come rushing in at the end. Often we can enter their lives after a decade or two have passed, and then we struggle to understand not only the illness, but the many highs and lows of the intervening years. We could not be with them during that pivotal moment and now we feel as though we have a lifetime of catching up to do. I’ve experienced that too.copy-of-quote-pinterest-template

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