On the alert- a carer’s relationship with their phone!

Always there.

When we have a loved one who is vulnerable or unwell, the sound of your phone becomes crucial. Whatever you are doing, your phone is always nearby, and you are on edge listening for it to ring. Whether it is a child struggling at school, a loved one in a care home, or a relative in hospital, your phone is that conduit of the latest information, and as such becomes central in your life.

When the phone goes off, my first instinct was to worry, what has happened, what can be done, what decision needs to be made. It is like the rest of the world is on hold in that moment, as you digest this latest twist in their care, and what it might mean. Time slows down, and is almost still.

I love when the person on the other end of the phone understands that, and starts their sentence ‘ now I don’t want you to worry, but………’ It just seemed so humane, and gives you time to adjust to what was coming next.

For my late husband, phonecalls could sometimes mean he had a seizure, an infection, or in some instances that he needed to go to hospital. Sometimes I needed to go straight away, morning, noon or night, and it became the norm for me to be ready to do so. It only had to happen now and again, for me to be on high alert every time I heard the sound of the phone, as I never knew what to expect.

I don’t know if my relationship with my phone will ever be normalised. I believe that Colin is now safe with Jesus, and so I am not going to get emergency calls about him in the middle of the night. However, when the phone goes……..

And so in every circumstance, I need to trust in God, and to seek to be calm. In psalm 28 verse 7 it says ” The Lord is my strength and my shield. I trust Him with all my heart.’ As we all learn to trust God more, may we panic less, even when the phone goes!

Gracious God, we thank You for all who care for others, and do so with love and grace. We thank you for people on phones, who quickly communicate vital information. Lord Jesus, You encircle us with Your love, You communicate your care for all who are struggling. May we learn to hear the phone ring without being fearful or catastrophising. May Your holy spirit guide us, and bring healing, and peace. Amen

Apologies and explanations!

Brene Brown quotation.

Dear friend, when Colin said that he wanted his writings published, I can honestly say that I had no idea where this would lead. Colin wrote some poems and reflections on different incidents that happened to him in the military, but they were in fragmentary form. I felt that writing a framework for them would make more sense, and this framework became the story of Colin’s life as a veteran in civilian life, and of the devastating impact that his history and disability had on him. This enables his story to be told in a fuller way.

Yet it is scary to tell this kind of story, because it is so very personal. And I am a very private person – as some of you know! So having the courage to do this, is immense. What I have discovered, is that it is easier for me to write this down, than to try and have a conversation about it all, as it is so complex, emotional, and at times harrowing.

And so I need to apologise to friends and colleagues who maybe feel bewildered that I didn’t share more of Colin’s story with them before. When I look back, it was easier to compartmentalise my life, in order to give it any semblance of normality. It was a relief at times to be out the house, talking about normal things, to laugh, to play, and this space to be was literally a Godsend.

I have listened to other carers grappling with this issue, about not wanting to talk about a loved one’s illness, especially when it is ongoing. It is easier to respond to the question ” how is so and so?” with the response ” up and down” than to give a long description of the details – eg for Colin – that he was affected by a seizure, depressed over memories from a military incident, or struggling with difficult behaviours because of a mood swing. There can be a lot of shame over difficult behaviours, and on many occasions I didn’t have the energy to explain things to myself, never mind anyone else.

In these years, I was blessed with a small but lovely group of supportive and prayerful friends, whom I saw regularly, and who listened beautifully. However as I was a carer, mum and worked full time, I didn’t have the capacity to always share what was going on to a wider circle. And I regret if people feel I was not as forthcoming as I might have been – I was not trying to be hurtful – just to live out each day. My primary focus was to support Colin.

And so I ask for forgiveness and understanding, for my coping mechanism in an ongoing stressful situation, was largely to keep things to myself. God was the One who was my Confidant, and who gave me strength each day. Meantime I thank everyone who accompanied me in this journey, as I value all of you, whether I was sharing things in more or in less detail. Whether it was laughing or crying, your support was invaluable.

” Love bears all things.” 1 Corinthians 13: 7

Prayer – Gracious God, what an amazing friend you give to us in Christ Jesus,

A friend, who is closer than a brother, who lifts up my soul.

Teach us all to value our friendships, to treasure times spend together, to be kind,

And to connect in a rich variety of ways, to support and encourage one another, Amen