Why I find it hard to talk about Sickness and Watching

I find it hard to talk about sickness when I’m not the one who is sick. This might come as a surprise. After all, I blog about Watching. I’ve written thousands of words on the topic, and spent hundreds of hours thinking about it.

But I still find it hard.

Talking about sickness is hard because words diminish

I really struggle with this. Every time I open a word document or begin a conversation with someone about a heart issue, I get a familiar ‘tugging’ feeling. It’s sort of like regret.

Because when words express our thoughts and feelings they inevitably reduce them. I love words, but words are not everything. Words only scrape the surface of the huge beast that being is.

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How to love our Wider Watchers

It’s easy, for us Watchers, whose lives are so embroiled with the pain of our Loved One, to forget those around us who aren’t Watchers. To overlook the lives of those Wider Watchers – our friends, our relations, our own other loved ones, who watch us as we Watch our suffering Loved Ones.

This is the final post is a short series about Wider Watchers. In Who are the Wider Watchers? We thought about how we are all actually Wider Watchers to some extent, and Wider Watchers (unlike Watchers) have the choice to Watch and to love, and this makes their sacrifice even more beautiful. In When our Wider Watchers hurt us? We pondered what it looks like to respond when Wider Watchers hurt us or our Loved One through their words or actions. In this post, we will discuss what it means to love our Wider Watchers, how to care for those around us who are not Watching as we are.

Why is this important?

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When our Wider Watchers hurt us

Wider Watchers do not have their day to day lives affected by our Loved One’s pain. They have the distance and freedom that at times we envy. They have the choice to involve themselves, and the ability to be a huge blessing and support to us and our Loved One.

But at times they get it wrong.

Wider Watchers hurt us

I think it’s important to acknowledge that either directly or inadvertently, Wider Watchers can make life harder rather than easier.

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Who are our ‘Wider Watchers’?

What about all the rest?

We’ve talked about Loved Ones, those of us who suffer day in and day out from either physical or mental illness. We’ve talked about Watchers, us whose lives are directly affected by their illness, and are called to love them, yet are unable to help them.

But what about those who fit into neither category? What about those who do not battle chronic pain, yet do not do life closely with those who do?

Do we need to address them?

Do they have a place on this blog?

Is their interaction with sickness and pain even slightly comparable to our own?

What if… they are us?

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Watching saves us

Last weeks post was about the dangers of Watching… and yet, Watching also has many saving graces. For you see,

Watching is like an electric fence.

We know Watching – like every situation – has its own peculiar dangers. As Watchers we may be more inclined towards bitterness, pride or self-entitlement. Like a fence, Watching keeps these temptations in close proximity.

And yet just as Watching keeps these trials in, it also keeps other trials out. Beyond our fence are temptations which we cannot as easily fall into. Of course there are holes in our fence, and we can climb it, but just like every circumstance in life, Watching narrows our experience. We are never tempted by every evil at once.

The difference with Watching of course is that often the temptations we face are ones which may not plague a non-Watcher. Similarly, the dangers we find less desirable are ones which others easily fall into.


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Watching is dangerous

And so, without further ado:

Watching kills

Watching is a threat to our soul.

Need I put it more bluntly? Watching is dangerous. It contains the two ingredients which are often present when something good turns sour. Watching is:

  1. Important.
  2. Hard.

They say challenges make us stronger, ‘better’ people. The truth is, they can also degrade us. And when something difficult is also of great importance, several dangers arise.

Let us be on our guard, friends.


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Watching changes the world

Again, another seeming paradox. In the last post I proposed that Watching cannot change anything… and now I’m telling you it changes the world.

Watching is a complex beast.

Both are true. Watching cannot possibly ‘fix’ our Loved One’s suffering. Nor can it redeem it in their eyes or in the eyes of others. Watching is not an answer to the ‘Problem of Pain’ and should never masquerade as one.

Does that mean Watching is unimportant? Useless? A waste of time? A period of life to be disregarded or belittled?

Not at all. A spoon is not pointless because it cannot cut my toast. It is merely being used for the wrong purpose.


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