For those who need you!
Caregivers and those supporting the Caregivers:
Everyone has a role when “darkness” knocks at your door and comes crashing through. Supporting the caregivers, they have similarities, just as the caregivers do to those who are diagnosed with cancer.
Some of the best caregiving you can provide involves just being present, sitting and listening to your loved one, friend. Not as easy as it may sound. Allowing them to open up about their emotions, fears, concerns, frustrations without judgment or advice, to not automatically interject reassuring words, more so to acknowledge how they feel and are doing. In essence just let them spill, letting their thoughts and words lead the way. Interrupting their thought process may cause them to shut down. The best encouragement comes from reminding them of their special qualities or of other challenges they have risen to and gotten through. However small they may seem, they are very much needed at such a challenging time. This will give them strength in an assuming and loving way. Rather than offer advice, discuss choices and allow them the “safe space” to be vulnerable and to openly talk through them to reach the best decision for them. Remembering to smile, hold a hand and that you can give joy to them. No, there is not joy in their situation, but there is joy within themselves in spite of it all, however small it may be. A child’s laughter, a hug, music, receiving a card in the mail, a funny text, talking and being with a caring friend and family. There are many ways to still have joy, or to create and to receive this into their lives.
More ways to provide support: offering child care for appointments, or for their own self care; running the odd errand for them; go for a walk with them; a helping hand with meals and staying in touch; a phone call, a thoughtful kind text, let them know that you are thinking of them during this difficult time. As I say, what is the point of truly thinking of someone if you do not tell them you are? Especially at a time like this. Sharing and giving them a smile, a laugh, this is an important component of healing. It releases positive and uplifting hormones that help one get through challenging times. You know your loved one before cancer entered their world. They are still that person, so do so that fits with who they are and your relationship. Check in with them regarding their self care; mindfulness, meditations, exercise, eating healthy, again you know your relationship use the ones that fit. Be there for them, remember some struggle silently, some openly. Use your sixth sense, if you feel they are struggling, talk with them.
Knowing they are thought of with love and care is such incredible support. More than you may think. Caregivers, support people sometimes get “lost” in the journey. They can’t. Some may think it is “selfish” to think this way. It is not, it is self care, to be the best they can be for the cancer journey of their loved one. Yes, it is about the one diagnosed, however support people play such an important role in healing. So their own self care is vital through it all. If they “fall apart”, get too angry , too sad or overwhelmed then that is doing no one a good service. Making sure they are getting the support they need, reminding them that they matter too, to be the best they can be. That is what supporting is all about. For everyone involved.
I am here for all those affected, it is my honour to be part of their journey to assist, guide and support them in whatever capacity they are needing. To ease the changes and transitions. To remember their own self care, including the joy within their hearts. I know the questions to ask with compassion and understanding, providing tools, strategies and solutions to get what they need. I know how to introduce “newness” into their world if needed. An example of this would be utilizing the power of the mind and enhancing or introducing mindfulness at such a difficult and challenging time.
All these things are to ease the burden that cancer has brought into their lives. Each person and cancer journey is unique to them, however these are a few samplings of how you can ease it for them too. I was so blessed to have an incredible support system and want to help those be their best selves for those they care about.
"You never now how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have”