Watcher - Caregiver


For years, I never considered that the Caregiver label belonged to me. It seemed too formal, too restrictive, and too important for what I did to help my chronically ill mum.

Hugs, housework, and understanding – surely those didn’t deserve such a label?

Even when my younger sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and I spent every other day at the hospital, caring 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.



However, I 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 wondered if other Watchers were out there.

Do you know someone who is struggling with a physical or mental illness? Have you ever stood by that someone and felt utterly helpless? Do they have problems you cannot remove and health concerns you cannot fix?



If so, you are a Watcher – and are most likely also a Caregiver.

You wince as your loved one winces and cry as they cry. You rejoice as they rejoice but you cannot even walk a block, much less 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 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. Every situation is different. 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, grasp our forearm, and (with full eyes and a knowing voice) say, “I get it. I understand.”



Watching is a journey that goes on and on – so encouragement is needed for the everyday. It is also a path that begins and ends, so we need help for those times, too.

Watching is also a quest that will, at some point, encounter God.

Of course, I don’t claim to have all the answers, but (by striving to live in the shadow of the Almighty) I am seeking them.



I have no “five-point plan” for healing or peace, but I pray that my words will help you ponder your life as they have helped me ponder mine – and that your experience will be richer for it.

I pray my words will provide a feeble sense of community and a less feeble sense of God. As 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 Published with permission.

Happy Bubbles
Emily J. Maurits

Emily J. Maurits

Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer

After working for several years in public health, Emily is studying theology. She believes we are all called to love suffering people because it is what Jesus did. She is passionate about equipping and encouraging others to do just that and founded for the family and friends of those with chronic illness. As well as uncovering God's presence in the chaos of life, she enjoys reading, running, and writing. Check out her memoir Two Sisters & a Brain Tumour.

Prayers for Caregivers

Lord, thank You for the ministry of caregiving. Help me be flexible, kind, and intentional (especially when I'm weary) as I act as Your hands and feet. Amen.

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