Talking about suffering: When NOT to answer The Question

Some questions should not be answered.
This is not because they are silly or childish (there’s no such thing as a stupid question, remember?)
Or because they are too difficult.
Or even because the answer is too scary.

No, the only reason you should not answer a question is when you have something to offer that is more important.

But what’s more important than an answer?

Talking about suffering: When not to answer the question

Let’s go back to my friend from the last post. She’s struggling from a mental illness which invades her days and eats away at her personality.

Upset and tired she asks me,
‘Why does God allow this?’

Now there is an answer I can give to this. It is a theologically sound answer.

It is correct in every sense of the word. And there’s nothing wrong with my motives – I love my friend, and want to see her comforted and at peace with God and herself.

All the boxes are ticked… and yet depending on the situation my answer could be extraordinarily hurtful to her. And yet, it might not be!

How do I know? Continue reading “Talking about suffering: When NOT to answer The Question”

Talking about suffering: Why pure motives don’t always make things right

Why am I sick?
Will I ever get better?
What am I supposed to be doing with my life?
It can take courage to ask these questions. But sometimes, it can take even more courage to answer them.

Today’s post is the first in a series of articles called ‘Talking about Suffering’…

Talking about suffering is hard! (how do you know what to say?)

Figuring out the truths about illness, suffering and the big problems of life is difficult.

It’s a different sort of hard when you are not sick yourself. How often do you feel helpless in the face of such questions? How often do you feel ill-equipped to answer your sick friend’s frustrations?

Even if you ‘know’ the right response (whether that’s an answer, rebuke or piece of advice) you might not know ‘how’ to say it.

Is this you? It’s often me!
Continue reading “Talking about suffering: Why pure motives don’t always make things right”

Planning your own future when you have a chronically ill family member

Sooner or later all of us want to look into the future. The time comes when we need to sit down with pen and paper and plan out our next few years. The problem with doing this as a Watcher is that chronic illness extends into the future too! It’s a big part of our life and we can’t ignore it or naively pretend that it will simply ‘go away’.

How then do we plan our future, keeping in mind our Loved One’s chronic illness?

How to plan your future while thinking of your sick family member

1. We admit it is hard

I think we’d all admit that planning our future is hard anyway. Whether you have too many possibilities or not enough, it’s difficult to figure out what something we have never experienced will look like. Most of us have dreams we’d like to see become reality, or at the very least we dream that one day we will have dreams.

Considering your future in the presence of chronic illness is even harder. The reason for this is that chronic illness is unpredictable. We can’t say how long our Loved One will need us, or how soon they will take a turn for the worse or for the better. We want to be realistic, but we also want to be hopeful.

Of course life is unpredictable for all of us. I could die tomorrow. And yet loving someone with chronic illness means that my future plans will impact them. Whatever I decide there will be some ramifications in their life – and so the burden to ‘choose right’ becomes even heavier.

Continue reading “Planning your own future when you have a chronically ill family member”

Help! I’m jealous of their chronic illness!

Imagine this. Or perhaps you don’t have to…

Your Loved One has lived with their chronic illness for ten years. There’s been highs and lows, but you’re just beginning to understand what life looks like for them and also for you.

Then a close friend receives a diagnosis. They’re sick. Chronically sick… perhaps with the same illness as your loved One, perhaps a slightly different one.

Everyone is dismayed and shocked. They surround the newly-diagnosed one with gifts of love and support. Maybe they look at you, and assume you too will visit and offer your help. After all, you and your Loved One are ‘old hands’.

Perhaps someone nudges you and quips that maybe the past suffering of your Loved One was preparation for loving this person – that all that agony was raising you up for “such a time as this.”

You know you should help. You know you should love. But instead you feel… jealous.
Continue reading “Help! I’m jealous of their chronic illness!”

Chronic illness is affecting my relationship… and I can’t help it.

Relationships with our chronically ill partners, friends or family members can be difficult. It’s important that we admit this, and carry on. But what does ‘carry on’ look like?

We accept brokenness in the context of our relationship

Sometimes remembering that both you and your chronically ill friend are only human can go a long way.

We can’t avoid frustrations and fractured relationships in this world. One day our hearts will be healed once and for all, but that time is not yet.

It is not wrong to long for better relationships, or feel that something is missing, but we cannot expect or demand perfection in this life.

Sometimes we need to learn to be (temporarily) satisfied with less. The only way we can really do this is if our strongest hope is in our relationship with Jesus rather than our relationship with our chronically ill friend.

Continue reading “Chronic illness is affecting my relationship… and I can’t help it.”

3 questions to ask when chronic illness threatens your relationship (and the only one that matters)

My chronically ill spouse, friend, family member hates me.

… and I’m beginning to suspect I hate them back.

These are big words.

Painful, awful words.

But so is being hurt by someone you love. ‘Dislike’ just doesn’t do it justice.

When we’ve invested a lot of time and emotional energy into a difficult relationship, it can be devastating when it crumples. This is especially true when our partner or friend is battling a chronic illness.

If our ill family member yells at us or threatens to leave, it can also be shameful. Fighting with your hospitalised grandmother, complaining about your chronically ill brother… it just seems wrong.

But it happens.

So what do you do?
Continue reading “3 questions to ask when chronic illness threatens your relationship (and the only one that matters)”

Why we need to tell our chronically ill friend the truth (even if it hurts)

Have you ever been hurt by someone? I have.
When it happens there are two things I want to do. I want to tell them they were in the wrong… and I want to tell someone else what occurred.

But what happens when it’s my chronically ill family member or friend who has hurt me?

Am I allowed to rebuke them?

And is it right to tell other people?

Q1. Are we allowed to yell at someone who is sick?

Anger brings a delicious freedom.

It allows us to feel that we are “within our rights” (whatever that means!) to say exactly what we think.

It seems to give us license to bring up past issues, to tell someone exactly what we think about them, what they ought to do (or not do), and precisely how much they have inconvenienced us.

My friends, if that is the sort of rebuking we want to do to our chronically ill family member, then the answer is no.

No, we should not rebuke them – because we shouldn’t rebuke anyone like that! It’s not loving.

On the other hand, if by rebuking we mean simply telling them that we are hurt because of them – then the answer is ‘perhaps’.

Continue reading “Why we need to tell our chronically ill friend the truth (even if it hurts)”

I think I hate my chronically ill family member

I hate my chronically ill family member
Have you ever thought the above sentence? Maybe not in those words. Substitute ‘hate’ for one of these:

Dislike

Frustrated at

Disapprove of

Am annoyed at

Would like to strangle

Does the sentence ring true for you now? Has it ever? If so, this post is for you.

We all live in relationship with other people.

It’s different though, when one of the members of the relationship is always sick. Whether it’s our spouse who is constantly hurting, or our sibling who is often in pain, it makes the relationship difficult.

It can mean their ability to engage in social niceties is limited. Often it means we can’t simply leave them whenever we want – there is no ‘space’ or ‘time out’ in our relationship.

Often this is okay. Other times it’s just too much. And there are some days where we can’t stand the sight of our chronically ill loved ones.

We feel like we are about to explode in frustration or annoyance. Our reservoirs of sympathy have dropped to critical level and we just want to grab them and shake them – or yell, wave our arms and leave.

With no plans to return.

But then we feel guilty. We are absolutely awful people. How can we possible get angry at someone who is sick? How can we stand and yell at someone whom society tells us is more vulnerable than ourselves?

After these thoughts, it’s easy for our frustration to double.

It’s not fair.

Why are other people allowed to have fights with their partner but we can’t? This sickness, it gets in the way of everything. There’s no release for our emotions.

You can’t run away from chronic illness – Tweet!

Continue reading “I think I hate my chronically ill family member”

What to do when someone you love has a chronic illness and you are too young

When someone we love receives a chronic illness diagnosis, it is easy to feel helpless.

This is magnified when you are “young”.

After all, you can’t offer lifts to doctors’ appointments and you can’t be there all the time, because you have to go to school.

Perhaps your offers to help aren’t taken seriously, or people overlook you in the mad rush to help your sick family member.

What do you do when you are too young to love?…

This post was first published on The Rebelution. Read the rest here!

 

(Image courtesy of original publication).

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Long distance Watching (Part 2)

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

Watching from a distance feels less ‘real’

What we experience personally 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?

Continue reading “Long distance Watching (Part 2)”