My family currently has a number of medical situations happening and this past weekend was spent checking in with various people to see what I could do to help the caregivers. Each situation is stressful for different reasons and the caregivers are doing fantastic jobs but they can’t do it all by themselves.
I think I’ve mentioned this in previous posts but I think it’s important to say it again: listening is a gift.
When others come to us with their pain or their joy, I think it is a time for us to show them respect by quietly sitting, listening and absorbing what they are telling us or even not telling us. This is a time to let the other person explain what is happening and how they are feeling. It is not a time of logic. And I always remind myself that it is not time for interruptions from me as the listener since I have a tendency to ask a lot of questions.
I find it is better to let the other person spill out their thoughts, in whatever order they want to talk about it. It is a time of feeling a mixture of emotions. Dealing with the doctors, the medical information and tests, seeking to care for this person while they are fighting the illness, trying to anticipate what might happen next to stay ahead of the illness is a huge job which can easily overwhelm anyone.
Sometimes as the caregiver, you don’t have the luxury of thinking about the next step because the medical condition develops in such a ways that you are swept along, reacting and then there is just more reacting to the illness.
Listening is allowing the other person to talk to you without interruption and allowing them to sort through what is happening to them and their loved one. When you can’t help care for the ill person, you can always reach and help the caregiver.
The simplicity of listening is often overlooked but it lets people know they are not alone and that you are there to help them.