good friends recently made me aware that i haven’t really articulated what i need during this f’d up time in my life. with two of my most important people (my aunt and grama) in hospice with short prognoses, there’s not much you can do to fix my situation. but there are a few things i can brainstorm about what you can do to support me, based on who i am and what i need:
- touch me. hugs, hand holding, an arm around my shoulder, a hand on my back. a big giant tight hug, prolonged and firm, so i can feel held and protected and like i have ground underneath me.
- ask me how i’m holding up. when i spew off details about caregiving and conditions and routines, ask me again how i’m holding up.
- encourage me to take care of myself. the best thing for me right now is to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, and connect. ask me to a healthy dinner. offer to walk around the lake or around the block or to coffee.
- i know you don’t know what to say. i understand. i don’t expect you to fix anything. just let me know you are thinking about me and supporting me.
- i need to talk and write through these feelings. i don’t generally like to talk on the phone, you probably already know that. a text message or an email is great and allows me to get back to you when i’m able. i love to use my friends as sounding boards to try and get things out and process my thoughts and feelings.
- invite me but don’t expect much. right now i’m living with my aunt fri-mon and i’m still working my regular schedule. so i don’t have a lot of time for socializing. but being remembered means a lot. i may or may not be able to accept your offers, but if you feel like doing something for an hour during the week, it may just be a nice distraction. if i can’t do it, don’t give up. ask again next week.
- i don’t know what i’m doing. if you have been there through the deterioration or death of a person close to you through cancer or dementia, share your story with me. this is a terrible club but it’s good to know i’m not the only member.
- i am a spiritual person but have religious baggage. please don’t try to smooth over the situation with religious slogans, my baggage makes it hard for me to be comforted by your good intentions about how i need to put my faith in God or Jesus. please offer me words of personal support and general optimism. thank you.
that’s all i’ve got for now. i’m doing my best to walk through this, this is a starting point on the best ways to walk with me.