How to love children with chronically ill parents

Most of us know someone who struggles with their health. Perhaps they’ve been diagnosed with a physical chronic illness, or they struggle daily with their mental health. As their friend, we seek to love and serve them in their suffering.
But how often do we remember their children?

What about the children with chronically ill parents?

Helen recently shared her story of caring for her chronically ill daughter – and now it’s time to think about what it’s like when the situation is reversed…

Three ways children with chronically ill parents can suffer:

READ MORE (first published on the Glorious Table as a guest post)

 

[Don’t have time to read right now? Pin for later!:]

//Do you know what it’s like to be a child of a chronically ill parent? If so, I’d love to hear your story!

 

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Twenty-Seventeen – your favourite posts

Only a few days left of twenty-seventeen! I hope you all had a lovely, rest-filled, Hope-filled Christmas.

For those of you who didn’t, I pray you were able to cling onto the hope that one day Christmas will conquer chronic illness.

It’s time for some stats! Out of the 54 posts published this year, let me share which ones you liked the most, and then I have a huge favour to ask you…

(These do not include the introductory – But what is Watching? and the About Me pages, both of which were very popular.)

So, without further ado –
Continue reading “Twenty-Seventeen – your favourite posts”

Why my blog will never go viral (reflecting on 2017 as a Watcher)

What I’ve learnt from blogging about chronic illness on Called to Watch

At the moment, even as I’m preparing to look forward to Christmas, 2018, and the future – I’m also looking back.

This is what I’ve learnt:

1. I have everything to gain and nothing to lose

Blogging over the past year has taught me that Watching is a ‘thing’. By this, I mean, loving someone with a chronic illness is a state of being worth talking about. It’s a relationship worth sharing.

It’s actually an important part of who I am – just as it’s a crucial element to who a lot of people are!
Continue reading “Why my blog will never go viral (reflecting on 2017 as a Watcher)”

Christmas & Chronic Illness… friends or enemies?

Chronic illness or Christmas? Which would you prefer?
I know which one I’d choose. But too often we don’t have a choice – and this is very evident during the holiday season.

Over Christmas we often spend more time with family, and for many of us, that means spending more time with Chronic Illness.

Chronic Illness doesn’t go on holidays over Christmas…

While the shops and the media try to convince us that by November 1 we have entered into a ‘new world’ of perfectly laid tables, wrapped gifts and dizzying heights of tinsel – most of us know that’s not quite true.

Nothing’s really changed.

Certainly not our loved one’s health struggles.

The rest of the country may be feeling care-free and relaxed – but often our Loved One’s have more cares than ever before. Continue reading “Christmas & Chronic Illness… friends or enemies?”

Friends, we are not doctors. (Is it wrong to want your chronically ill Loved One cured?)

When I was little I toyed with the idea of becoming a doctor. Not because I had an undying desire to see sick people healed, but because there was one ill person I wanted to cure. I longed to take away my mum’s pain with a single flick of a pen on a prescription pad.

While my career aspirations soon headed off down a different track, I think this desire is something we can all sympathise with. To some extent it never does away.

As care-givers and support-bearers and Watchers we would love to see our Loved Ones healed. Yet it can become dangerous when this simple desire begins to morph into something subtly different: a belief that it is our responsibility to cure them.
When this happens we swap our role as a Watcher for that of a “doctor”.

Watchers we are not… doctors

Do you ever feel the need to cure your chronically ill loved one?

Have you accidentally become a “doctor”? Do you ever:

  • Feel your goal in the relationship is to bring healing?
  • Spend time collecting remedies (via Google, word of mouth etc) and offering them to your Loved One?
  • Feel better when you can diagnose the cause of your Loved One’s distress that day. Does being able to rate it on a scale of 1-10 and use the appropriate words to describe and understand it, reassure you?
  • Feel like a failure when you are unable to reduce your Loved One’s suffering, or bring them relief?

“Watchers, we are not doctors. We have a higher calling.” Tweet @calledtowatch

Continue reading “Friends, we are not doctors. (Is it wrong to want your chronically ill Loved One cured?)”

How to sympathise with "first world" problems

Some struggles win our sympathy easily.
My mother died.
I have cancer.
We are being evicted.

These announcements normally evoke an emotional response. We recognise them as huge, world-breaking problems. They are tragedies with capital ‘T’s.

For this reason it is often easier to sympathise with our chronically ill friend, than our whining-about-their-chipped-nails colleague. And yet, we’ve discussed that as humans (and even more so as Christ-followers) we really ought to sympathise with both.

Easy to say.

Hard to do.
Continue reading “How to sympathise with "first world" problems”

Why you should sympathise with first world problems (when your own are much bigger)

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.

We often label them “first world problems”.
And they can be annoying. Especially as Watchers.
Continue reading “Why you should sympathise with first world problems (when your own are much bigger)”

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 our wider supporters hurt us

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.

They may:

  • 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”