Help! People keep asking…

“… and there’s nothing left to say.”

Chronic illness is…well, chronic. For the most part, not only does it not end, but it remains the same.  Of course there are changes, developments, progressions – but these are generally subtle in nature and may vary between individuals. Perhaps our Loved One is slowly but surely declining. Or maybe their sickness fluctuates without rhyme or reason. Some days they are well, others they are not. Or perhaps there is simply no visible change at all, just a long, monotonous pain.

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Long distance Watching (Part 2)

This is the 2nd part of a series on Watching a Loved One suffer from a distance. In Part 1 we looked at the fact that it is hard to help out physically when you live a long way away. This post looks at some of the other difficulties we may encounter. So without further ado…

It’s difficult to care as much about something when you’re not confronted with it every day.

This is why we are often more distressed about our 3 year old’s tantrum than a war in a 3rd world country. What we see and experience affects us. It seems more real, not only because we are a firsthand witness but because it actually disrupts our life. Thus, it is more difficult to Watch when we do not see our Loved One regularly. It is genuinely hard to place as much importance on their struggles. Not because our love is less, but because it makes up less of our day.

What should we do?

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Help! I’m not allowed to say “it’s not fair”

Perhaps you have been here.

A knock at the door.

You answer.

It’s a friend, a neighbor. She has just popped over for a chat. She holds a covered dish: ‘Cooked a bit extra and thought you could do with a home cooked meal’. She asks how we are, how our Loved One is. She complains for a while about her work, and how tired she is from the high tea she went to on the weekend. She has another date with friends in a few days but unfortunately it coincides with the birthday of a family member. ‘It’s always the way isn’t it? Everything at once, so frustrating.’

She shifts on the door step. ‘Ah well, no rush to return the dish – we’ll be away for a few weeks. Going on a cruise. Just a small one. I’m a bit worried actually, I’m terrified I’m coming down with a cold. There’s nothing worse than a sniffly nose! Anyway, got to rush, I have a hair dressers appointment this afternoon. All the best!’

You juggle the still-warm meal and close the door, the hot smell of cheese and silver foil clouding the air. After the door is firmly shut and the neighbor out of sight, you give the wood a short, hard kick.

It’s not fair!

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Help! I’ve run out of sympathy

As we know, chronic illness goes on and on and on. There is no end, no use by date. This is a problem. Because we are only human. We find it difficult to stretch out our emotions. A state of perpetual excitement, for example, is extremely difficult to maintain. So is a state of sympathy. Yet what happens when the tragedy has not passed (and may not pass) and our sympathetic feelings, our desire to be involved, our sadness in what is, has come to an end?

Do we simply give up?

Do we stop Watching?

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Help! I feel like a burden

Some days we feel like a burden.

To those around us.

To ourselves.

But most of all –

To our suffering Loved One.

A burden is something troublesome. It is something hard to get rid of. It’s something the one who bears it finds difficult to put down, either due to attachment or principle.

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