All Those Comments

Which voice will be yours?

We’ve all heard them – those cringe-worthy comments that are delivered with care, but little experience or understanding.  Those phrases that slap a caregiver upside the head and leave one reeling with hurt, confusion and a struggle with faith.  Those sentences that are well-meant but not well delivered.

“God must have needed you to slow down.”

“God is just looking for a chance to provide a miracle.”

“If you just have enough faith he’ll be healed.”

“If you spend an hour every morning in prayer…”

“If you would change her diet…

“I have the perfect home remedy for you, you know those medicines are evil…”

“Have you searched your heart for that un-confessed sinf?”  And I hear the unspoken:  “because obviously your four-year-old doesn’t deserve this so you must have done something.”

These kinds of comments fling themselves at caregivers more often than you’d think. They, along with other pat answers and common consolation phrases jump out of a mouth and crawl around in our heads and there are moments that we want to beg for someone to just BE there.  To listen.  To cry.  To laugh.  To go out shopping.  To provide a book.  To sit with the patient.  To smile.  To understand.

That’s community.

My sister lost her son in an accident years ago, but every time she meets another mother struggling to walk through life without a child, there is an instant connection, usually involving a hug and some tears.

A friend has a daughter with traumatic brain injury.  She has new friends undergoing the same struggles with a child or sibling or spouse.

My mom is coming up on the year anniversary of my dad’s death, and she goes out to eat with some widow friends and sometimes they talk about their spouses, but other times they say nothing at all about it.

I have a new friend, because her son was diagnosed with leukemia in the first week of school (just like mine) and the similarities were haunting.  We bonded instantly, but I find myself without words now, because her boy lost his battle with cancer.

A friend had a miscarriage a couple of years ago and wrote her story.  The response is huge, all voicing the need to know they’re not alone in their pain.

Anita’s husband is the miracle. Pedro is the one who made it, against all odds, but it has taken Anita time to get over the effects that caregiving creates.  She and I developed a bond over the phrases, “Don’t you wish someone would have told us?” and “Can you believe someone actually said that?”

I also have the miracle.  My healthy 16-year-old son, while still struggling with some remnant effects of such strong drugs for so many years, is doing great.  Oddly, and much against my will, I still find myself wanting to talk about it, or hearing the word leukemia and shuddering, or nodding in sympathy when hearing of anxiety attacks or the inability to sleep because of caregiving.

When I meet another parent of a leukemia patient, we have no shortage of words, understanding nods and hugs.

This is community.

This blog is created for community.  We each need a place to know we’re not alone and to hear that we did NOT create whatever catastrophe has struck our loved one.  We need to know that we’re not crazy when we can’t sleep and weight gain (or loss) is typical and somehow, some way and some time, we will be okay again.

November is National Caregiver’s month.  We are looking for guests to share their journey.  Let someone know your story – it might be similar to theirs and you might become that understanding nod, that smile or that hug that someone needs.  Sign up to share YOUR STORY here.  You might be that voice telling a caregiver that they’re not crazy and definitely not alone!

Be the voice to create community with positive comments #caregiverconnections #caregivermonth Click To Tweet


Inspire Me Monday Instructions

What’s your inspirational story? Link up below, and don’t forget the 1-2-3s of building community:

1. Link up your most inspirational post from the previous week.

2. Vist TWO other contributors (especially the person who linked up right before you) and leave an encouraging comment.

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Please link back to this week’s post or add the button to your post so that we can spread the inspirational cheer :).

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  • There may have been more, but I can only think of couple of comments that bugged me. After we brought my mother-in-law into our home from the nursing home, so many people said, “Home is the best place for them.” We came to that conclusion in her case, but when others said it so glibly, it seemed to show a lack of understanding the struggle we went through to make the decision or just what it was going to entail for us. Besides the fact that sometimes a facility really is the best place. The other comment is when people ask how she is doing. She’s been kind of in a holding pattern for more than a year now, sleeping 20 hours a day and rarely speaking, so our usual answer is that she’s doing “about the same.” Some people have gotten perturbed with us for that, as if we’re tossing off a glib answer, so then I’ve gone on to say she sleeps most of the time. But, really, even if there was more to say, if that’s all I want to say about it, that should be fine. Once when someone asked my husband how she was doing, he answered, “She’s declining,” and the man said, “Well, we’re all declining.” True, but insensitive to say. Sometimes when she has gone through a rough patch and we thought her time might be coming to an end, people have seemed taken aback when our answer to their inquiry is not hunky-dory and upbeat. But in a situation like this – yes, her health and abilities are failing, and she is going to die sooner or later. It’s kind of like when people say, “How are you?” in a routine way but would be surprised if you really told them. 🙂 I think that’s why I went to the standard, “About the same” answer. I don’t know if others truly understand unless they’ve been in the situation. When it bugs me, I try to just be appreciative that they are asking or showing an interest at all.

    • Oh Barbara, I can so relate. Today marks the one-year mark since my father passed away and I’ve thought a lot, through the day, about his last year. How many people were kind enough to ask how he was doing, but yes, sort of taken aback that I did not have a positive answer at hand. How does one respond positively to Alzheimer’s? “He still loves God and my mother.” That was kind of my answer. You’re right – people cared enough to ask, and that was a blessing.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    What a terrific post! When I was in a crisis not long ago, and not expected to survive, a friend from work told Barbara, “If I may, I will join you in sitting at the foot of the Cross.”

    That pretty well sums it up.