I see lot's of very sick people in the course of my day working for a specialist. I also see a lot of partners and care-givers. I don't think people tend to see them as much, they are like the leaves, just part of the plant, it's the flowers we are interested in.
But look at that nasturtium leaf. So strong and broad with a network of support veins. It keeps the plant alive, without it there would be no flowers.
If you have a family member with a long chronic illness it changes your life and the relationships you once had. Often there is no work, which in itself is a social outlet, and the activities and friends you once had all seem to fade away. It's part of the reality. Friends leading normal lives just don't fit with your situation anymore; endless rounds of appointments, chronic exhaustion and depleted finances. There are no more dinner parties, the dietry restrictions are too demanding and there excursions are few.
The care-giver, like that leaf, become sorely absorbed with keeping the plant alive and the flowers holding their heads up towards the sun.
But flowers die.
There is a great fuss at this time. Lot's of people and condolences.
A week later there is emptiness.
A month later, two, three.....
what is the care-giver to do?
Their whole life has been about looking after someone else and now they are not there. It's more than grieving for a lost love, it's about being cast adrift without a rope. People have forgotten and gone back to their lives (and that is normal) but the caregiver has to find a net work again and a friendship base again. It's almost like moving to a new town and not knowing anyone.
Can I ask you today to please think about the people around you. Do you know someone whose partner died within the last 12 months? Please ask them to dinner or on a picnic. Check to see if they need help in the garden. Maybe they would like to join your knitting group or volunteer club. Help them to find a life again and make them feel like they are not forgotten. If you live at a distance now is the time to send them a card to say I am thinking of you.