These past few weeks have been the first time in almost two and half years that I’ve felt relaxed enough to take a moment to sit, read and enjoy it. No matter how often people tell you to take some time for yourself, meditate, or do something to take your mind off it, if you have an unwell partner for an extended length of time, it’s almost impossible to shift the load. It’s like you are holding your breath.
I don’t like to call it a load but that’s exactly what it is.
When it comes to caring for our loved ones we don’t consider it a burden, but it’s something extra to carry. It may manifest as stress, worry, concern, anxiety, fear or even sadness and grief.
After Hubby’s mini stroke in March 2016 life changed. There were lots of wobbles and much monitoring and doctor care. With a strict regime in place we got on with it. But it was constant. There wasn’t a minute when I wasn’t on guard. And that takes a toll. While we hang in there, something always suffers. I may be a positive pixie, but my body didn’t get the message. My hair started falling out.
On the 1st May this year it became very dramatic. An ambulance transported Hubby to hospital again. I was in shock because this time he couldn’t move, and we had no idea why. It took three weeks and a myriad of tests to find out, but in the meantime, we were in no man’s land. I did what it took to get through it and even made the following video, but the truth was, I felt lost and very much alone. During the first week that Hubby was in the hospital, I didn’t see a single soul. The month of May turned into an emotional blur. I had nothing to hang onto. While Hubby was learning to walk again, I was falling to pieces. I couldn’t sleep, I lost more hair, and because I was exhausted, I got sick.
But this blog post is not about advice.
There are no magic words of wisdom that can help one deal with a shock or how to carry a heavy emotional load. This blog post is about what I discovered. And that is, that I desperately needed was someone’s comforting arms. Like the ones my mother gave me so many years ago in a similar situation. I wanted someone to put their arms around me and let me weep.
My social media friends were wonderful. My appreciation and gratitude overflowed for the love and support I received, but as wonderful as it was, an empathetic hug is what I needed.
Today I feel a lot better and I am grateful that Hubby is on the road to wellness. So why would I bother writing about it? I’m writing about it because it’s important. When we see someone going through difficult times, don’t be afraid to reach out with empathy.
But, here’s the thing about empathy…
If someone had asked me face to face, ‘Are you alright?’, it would have all spilled out and I would have received my empathetic hug. But instead, everyone said exactly what I usually say in the same situation. Things like, ‘take care’, ‘look after yourself’ and ‘I’m sending love and thinking of you’. All the things we say from our hearts because we care. But now, having walked in the shoes of someone who feels totally adrift at sea, I understand it a lot better.
It’s hard to ask for help…
And sometimes, it’s even harder to express exactly what we need. We all try to hold ourselves together, but no matter how strong we are, sometimes we shatter. Those are the times when an ear and comforting arms are exactly what we need.
For those who feel lost, don’t be afraid…
Trust someone enough to tell them. It’s OK to be vulnerable.
For those who notice it, don’t be afraid…
Reach out with open arms. Let empathy lead you.
Inara Hawley © 2018