For years I never considered that the label “Caregiver“ belonged to me. It seemed too formal, too restrictive, too important for what I did to help my chronically ill mum.
Hugs and housework and understanding.
Surely those didn’t deserve such a label?
Yet when my younger sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor and I spent every other day at the hospital and I cared for her in many physical ways from feeding to advocating for her with the pain team, I still didn’t feel this label belonged to me.
But I also felt I needed the help that a label brings. Without a label I did not have the words to share my story.
So I created a word. I called myself a Watcher and then I began to wonder if there were other Watchers out there.
Do you know someone who is struggling with a physical or mental illness? Have you ever stood by someone and felt utterly helpless? Do they have problems that you cannot take away, and health concerns you cannot fix?
WATCHER AND CAREGIVER
If so, you are a Watcher. You are most likely also a Caregiver.
You wince as your loved one winces, you cry as they cry, and rejoice as they rejoice, but you cannot even walk a mile in their shoes.
We are the healthy ones. We have the world at our fingertips and often share none of their bodily restraints. Our burden is different. We walk beside them and try to communicate their ups and their downs to the people around us. Often we fail, because sometimes there are simply no words.
It is hard being a Watcher, my friends. It is lonely, because every illness is different. No situation is the same. All of us are Watchers, but all Watch alone.
This is why I started writing. There are two answers to such aloneness. One is community, the other is God.
We all long for someone to stand by our side and grasp our forearm and say with a knowing, quiet voice and full eyes, “I get it. I understand.”
WATCHING – A JOURNEY AND A QUEST
Watching is a journey which goes on and on – and so encouragement is needed for the everyday. It is also a path which begins and ends, and so we need help for those times too.
Watching is also a quest which will at some point encounter God.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I am seeking them as I strive to live in the shadow of the Almighty.
“I THOUGHT I WAS THE ONLY ONE.”
I have no ‘five point plan’ for healing or even for peace, but I do pray my words will help you ponder your life as they have helped me ponder mine – and that your experience will be the richer for it.
I pray they will provide a feeble sense of community and a less feeble sense of God. Like C. S. Lewis wrote in Surprised by Joy, I have only, “… been emboldened to write of it because I notice that a man seldom mentions what he had supposed to be his most idiosyncratic sensations without receiving from at least one (often more) of those present the reply, ‘What! Have you felt that too? I thought I was the only one.’”
*First published at calledtowatch.com. **Republished with permission.
More Posts by Emily
So how do we live through disaster well? We take our terrifying anxieties and our aching sorrows and we choose to let despair draw us to Jesus ...
PRAYER AND HEALING “I’ll pray God will heal your friend.” “I’ll pray God will heal you.” Sometimes these promises make me feel uncomfortable. Have you ever been on the receiving end of an offer for prayer? I’ve used the word “offer,” but it’s really more of a statement. After you share your...
Emily J. Maurits
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
After working for several years in the public health sector, Emily is now studying theology. She believes we are all called to love suffering people, because that's what Jesus did. She is passionate about equipping and encouraging others to do just that, and founded www.calledtowatch.com for the family and friends of those with chronic illnesses. As well as uncovering God's presence in the chaos of life, she enjoys reading, running and writing, with her memoir coming out next year.
We all know people suffering from sickness, disability, depression, or grief. Where are we to find strength in such circumstances? Dave Furman offers support, encouragement, and wisdom for those called to care for others in need - equipping us to effectively care for the hurting and pointing us to the strength that God provides.
Kenneth C. Haugk, PhD
An essential guide on how to care for and relate to people as they encounter difficult times in life. This book draws on extensive research of those who have experienced various kinds of suffering in their lives, offering key insights and suggestions of what to say and do—and what not to say or do—when people are hurting. With its biblical foundation, compassionate approach, and concrete ideas, this book will help you bring God’s loving presence to hurting people when they need it most.
Cindee Snider Re
REJUVENATE, REVTALIZE, REKINDLE AND RECONNECT
This insightful and enriching 10-chapter study, designed just for couples, offers you and your spouse a safe place to grieve, heal, grow, and begin to dream together again – to thrive as one – in sickness and in health.
Caregivers walk their own unique path through chronic illness. A caregivers role can be both rewarding and exhausting, difficult and joy-filled, meaningful and frustrating, isolating and inspiring. Wherever you are on the journey, we’re so glad you’re here! Step into hope, find purpose, embrace worth, and encounter God’s joy.