Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Who’s Going to Be There For You?

Posted in Caregiving, Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, Illness on May 11th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

It was just strange.  Today’s visits at the hospital had a theme — the support of family and friends is precious.

As I went from patient to patient, the theme just jumped out.

It started with a patient getting ready for a stem cell transplant talking about how important his support network of friends and family are.  When we got ready to pray, he asked me to pray specifically for them, because they were going to be doubly important to him in the coming weeks.

I visited with a woman struggling with cancer whose daughter and son-in-law had come in from out of town to be with her.  The woman was struggling with news of her condition, as was her daughter.  But they were together.

In another room, I visited with with a couple who had only been in the country a few months.  He was dying, and they had no family or friends in the country to provide support, only a fellow employee.  I was thankful for this man providing support to this couple during an incredibly difficult time.

Then as I was getting a glass of tea in the cafeteria, I ran into a couple I had visited with many times in the past.  He helped her with her food as we sat and visited.  And we talked about how important having each other is.

What I observed today is no surprise to anyone who has been through a tough time.  Family and friends play a valuable, supportive role.  And when they’re not available, or don’t exisit, things are just more difficult.

With this background, maybe there are a couple of points to think about:

1.  If you are currently estranged from family and/or friends, now is the time to heal those relationships.  There will come a time when they need you or you need them.

2.  Don’t wait to let your family and friends know what’s going on when you enter a difficult season.  Let them into your situation, and help them understand how they can provide the support you need.

3.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to provide support to those who may be without family and friends.

So, who’s going to be there for you?  And who are you going to be there for?  Two very important questions to consider as we experience life together.

Caregiving: Learning Who Can Help Me?

Posted in Caregiving on March 19th, 2009 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

There’s so much to learn when you become a caregiver.  Learning who can help you is a big part of that.

At first, you feel like you’re all alone, that you have to do everything.  That’s not a good feeling, and that’s certainly not a place you want to stay.  So here are some ideas to get you started thinking about who can help you, whether you’re new to caregiving or a seasoned pro.

1.  A trusted friend of the person you’re caring for or someone they accept as an authority figure can be priceless.  They can say things that the person you’re caring for needs to hear, but won’t accept from you.  They can give advice you can’t give.  They can sometimes be “the bad guy” when one is needed.  Nurture these relationships, and call on them as needed.

2.  A support group, formal or informal, of people who have been through caregiving situations similar to yours can provide immense help.  They provide an amazing sounding board for what you’re feeling and what you’re dealing with.  They have experience that will be helpful because they have been through many of the same things you’re facing already, and know what works and doesn’t work.  Meet with these folks regularly.

3.  The medical team that provides care for the person you’re caregiving for can help in many ways.  They can provide information, answer questions, refer you to others who can help, and maybe at times serve as the authority figure we talked about in point no. 1.

4.  Your personal physician should be part of your support team.  Be sure to discuss your caregiving role, as well as any personal concerns brought on by your role.

5.  Your friends and family can help you in innumerable ways.  But don’t wait for them to offer or to just jump in.  Generally they don’t know what to do.  Make lists of things that would help you in your caregiving role.  Ask those you think might be willing to help from time to time to take on one of the tasks.  Learn the magic phrase, “I need your help.”  You’ll be surprised at how well people respond to being asked to help.

This list just touches the surface of who can help you in your role as a caregiver, but it should be enough to get you started thinking about assembling a whole team of folks that can share your responsibility.

You’re not in this alone.  Unless you choose to be.

Statements Grievers Would Rather Not Hear

Posted in Grief and Grieving on December 4th, 2008 by Jim Hughes – 6 Comments
Photo Credit: Sophi Newman

Photo Credit: Sophi Newman

Some of the things that we tend to say to people who are grieving turn out to have just the opposite effect of what we might have intended.

Sometimes we choose what we say based on what we’ve heard in similar situations, without really evaluating how it impacts the person hearing it.

And it turns out, that most of these statements are really rooted in the fact that we don’t want to see the hurt that the person is feeling.  We want it to be over so we don’t feel bad.

Dr. Virgil Fry, Executive Director of Lifeline Chaplaincy, has collected some of these statements that grievers would rather not hear.  As you read them, think about the impact they have on someone grieving.

  • Just be glad you had her/him as long as you did.
  • Don’t cry.
  • Stay as busy as you can.
  • It’s been several months.  Shouldn’t you be over this?
  • Try not to think about it.
  • You can always __________ (have other children, remarry, etc.)
  • It’s God’s will.
  • You shouldn’t feel that way.
  • Call me if you need anything.
  • You ought to get his/her things out of the house.
  • Nobody promised you’d have him/her forever.
  • Just remember life goes on.
  • Talking about him/her just makes it worse.
  • You’ve got to be strong now.
  • He/she wouldn’t want you to grieve.

A statement grievers need to hear:  I care.

I bet that you’ve heard these and more.  Feel free to add some more in the comments, or to talk about how you felt when someone said one of these to you.

This is What Friendship Looks Like

Posted in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care, Illness on October 31st, 2008 by Jim Hughes – Comments Off

Sometimes while doing chaplaincy rounds at M. D. Anderson, I happen to be in the right place at the right time to participate in a special moment.  Today I got to be present for another one of those times.

I’d just entered a patient room, a guy I’d visited last week as well.  He could hardly wait to tell me that the preacher and one of the elders from his home church had driven down from Oklahoma City to spend some time with him.  And almost before he could finish the sentence, in they walked along with the patient’s wife.

For the next 15 minutes, they took turns telling great church stories, which had us all (including the nurse who came in to do vitals) laughing, and enjoying each others’ company.  When the elder began telling about announcing to their Bible class yesterday morning that they were coming to Houston for this visit, both he and the patient shed tears — evidence of the close bond they share.  And then the five of us joined hands while the preacher of 60 years prayed about God’s power and our shared desire for healing.

On our way out after the prayer, the preacher explained to the patient that they would visit him four times during this trip, the second time tonight after dinner.  Each visit would be short, and would include prayer.

That these two men would drive from Oklahoma City to Houston speaks volumes about how valued this patient is to that church.  And there are no words to express how valuable it was to this patient to have two dear friends be present with him during this time of trial.

I want to be that kind of friend.  Because I need those kinds of friends.

Originally published in my personal blog.