How’s your mum? How’s your sister?’
These are questions I get a lot. They’re great questions. They mean people are thinking about my sick family members, and it shows that the people around me understand that their illnesses are a rather large part of my life.
Most of the time I appreciate the time taken to ask a question like this, and the implied preparedness of the Asker to listen to a ‘deep’ response.
The other week though, I got asked this question twice, and each time it left me feeling guilty.
I bumped into my landlady as I was leaving my house, and she stopped me with a smile, and asked, ‘How is your mum going? And your sister’s health – how is it?’
I smiled in reply – and then froze.
Continue reading “LTCI #2: Am I my family’s keeper?”
I stubbed my toe.
I can’t afford concert tickets.
There’s no chocolate in my house.
Who hasn’t heard such complaints? From friends, colleagues – perhaps from yourself.
Grieving in front of people is not something we’re particularly good at in my culture. Weeping often happens behind closed doors, or in the arms of a loved one.
Yet when a diagnosis of chronic illness enters our lives, or the lives of our family members, it’s impossible to avoid public places, and often just as impossible to avoid tears!
As Christians, church is a public sphere where we may find it hard to contain our grief. For this reason I’m going to use it as an example, but most of what is written below can apply to any public space.
Firstly: should we even be trying to contain our grief?
I don’t think so.
4 Reasons we grieve chronic illness in public
1. We grieve chronic illness in public because we care
Continue reading “Why I think it’s okay to grieve in Public”
“Just laugh or you’ll go mad.”
It’s advice I hear in hospital corridors and grocery stores.
In this era of ‘political correctness’ there are a surprising number of opportunities to snigger at the antics of dementia patients, our children’s disobedience, or someone else’s misfortune.
So where do we draw the line?
Today I’m guest posting over at Paradigm Shift, so head on over to continue reading this post.
It addresses an issue which is particularly pertinent to us as Watchers!
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Wider supporters will hurt us at times
I think it’s important to acknowledge that either directly or inadvertently, wider supporters can sometimes make life harder rather than easier. It’s part of being human and living in a broken world.
- Brush away your complaints or concerns. “Ah well, sickness is part of life, isn’t it? We all have burdens.”
- Ask you to take up ministry opportunities when your life is full of caring for your Loved One
- Compare your suffering to theirs, “Oh I know exactly how you feel”
- Tell you exactly how they feel – without asking how you are
- Assume they know what you need, or what you ought to do
- Treat you differently because you are a Watcher
- Treat you exactly the same, as if being a Watcher has not affected you.
- Treat you as a walking newsletter, rather than an individual in your own right
Continue reading “What to do when our wider supporters hurt us”
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?
We all like to use labels.
And they are necessary, and useful. Sometimes, however, they miss the mark. They cause us to overlook questions that need to be asked, and they paint the entire situation with broad sweeps, when actually, life is a lot more intricate.
When they leave us talking about ‘them’ and ‘those people’, it’s easy to forget that some of the time, in some circumstances, those people are ‘us’.
We are all wider supporters
It doesn’t matter if we are also individuals suffering with chronic illnesses or caregivers. It doesn’t matter if we’ve never met anyone with a chronic illness or we work in a hospital and it’s all we see.
Continue reading “Why do our ‘wider supporters’ matter?”
‘Don’t restrain me.’
‘Labels are limiting.’
‘We shouldn’t put people in boxes.’
‘Everything is fluid.’
‘Categorizing someone stops them reaching their full potential.’
We don’t like labels.
Talk to anyone who is in tune with the 21st century about political correctness and common courtesy and phrases like the above will arise.
Yet it has been blatantly obvious from the very beginning that I have fixed a very firm label on myself and others on this blog.
Here are some of them:
Watchers – those in a close relationship with chronically suffering people
Wider Watchers – those who are not in a close relationship with chronic sufferers
Loved Ones – the chronic sufferers themselves
Labels restrain us
Why have I done this?
To be perfectly simple, I wouldn’t be able to write without them. I need to have these definitions in order to muse and blog and think about our specific situation.
First things first, let’s clear the waters and accept the inevitable truth:
Labels (inadvertently or otherwise) do place limits.
Continue reading “Should we use labels?”
Clichés fly thick and fast around the world of chronic illness.
Keep fighting. You’re so strong.
God has a plan.
It will turn out all right in the end.
He has his ups and downs.
Do these phrases make you wince? Does anger bubble up your throat when you hear them? Do they make you want to go on a hashtag rant on Twitter or write a Facebook essay speckled with ‘angry’ emoji?
I know the feeling.
Why we can’t get rid of clichés when we talk about chronic illness
Clichés are part of life. Some words simply fit better than other ones. And so we reuse them.
And reuse them, and reuse them…
… until they lose their meaning.
Continue reading “Why you should use cliches when talking about chronic illness”