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The benefits of being part of a support site


swilkinson

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Just talking on chat with Host Sally about how we need older people in our lives to guide us, to be the guides, counselors, encouragers, earth mothers, wise women and agony aunts. We also need strong men who have wisdom, the answers grown out of experience, the time to sit and help us work out a solution. In other words we need each other. We need to get out of our generational group and take heed of what others see. I find this in the church too and in the other organisations I belong to. I am lucky I have the time now to sit with older people and find that as I do the nursing home visiting etc that I learn as I go, that I benefit from the visits as much as they do.

 

Opening ourselves to others is something we have to learn. I would sit behind my bedroom door and listen to Mum and her female visitors conversations. Of course I was one of those " little pitchers that have big ears" but I learned a lot from listening to them. Of course some of the time the conversation was unsuitable and sometimes I learned some home truths about my own behavior and some of it was spot on. But listening to older people does mean you do not have to test everything out yourself, you can learn second hand how things work and what you should do in certain situations.

 

It is the same here. We all learn from others experience. We all read the posts, read the blogs, read the information given out in so many different ways and if we learn from them we do not have to go through the experiences ourselves as we can take the lead from what others have done. When I posted a query when Ray was badly stroke affected and I did not know what to do I was not always thrilled with the answers I got. I sometimes wished for the "magic wand" approach, just do this, this and this, wave the magic wand and all will be well, I have always been a bit of a wishful thinker. But now I know looking back that some of those answers were so right, I just didn't want to acknowledge that at the time.

 

Now I am a widow I depend in a different way on a site called Widowed Village. The forums there are categorized in year of death, age (I'm born in the 40s) categories like Long term Caregivers, giving you a scope of forums to join and of course I have a blog there too which is more about widow issues than the one I keep here. I need that too, a blog other widowed people can relate to and comment on so I know I am not alone in what I think and feel. Others whose grief is still fresh remind me of what I went through and how far I have come, those whose grief is older can show me where I will be in the future.

 

Nothing we learn goes out-of-date. We build wisdom in layers, one thing adds to another, so when I read the blogs sometimes I want to say "you will not always feel like this" but it would be inappropriate for me to do so as we all learn at our own pace. One thing leads to another, each life is unique, no-one else can really know what is happening in your life and what you are going through whether you are a caregiver or a survivor. The wise ones know that and can allow you to be yourself. It is part of being supportive and also part of being supported when the comments seem out of step with what you expected the answers to be. We can only speak out of our own experiences.

 

But with a heart of compassion we can also reach out in so many ways to comfort others. It is part of my role as a pastoral care worker in my church that I reach out to others who are very different in their thinking to myself. I have to be prepared to accept their point of view, however much I want to give advice it is not appropriate for me to do so, all I can say is that I hear what they say and have they thought of trying this or that? It is about treating others the way we like to be treated. Empathy is not easy and sometimes I fail to reach out to someone who is young, maybe into drugs or has lived in unfortunate circumstances that I would have found impossible to deal with. But I know someone else who may be better suited to helping them will come along.

 

There are no wrongs answers in life, just answers that don't fit the problem. And sometimes when I read the posts I have no solutions, living in a different continent, under different government rules, different systems of care etc. But I can still empathise with the feelings the person has or what they are actually going through, caregivers and survivors alike. I am very grateful for the friendships I have formed from here and especially those who have continued to be friends on Facebook or my email list. I love to be in touch with you all.

 

As older hands here we really need to support the Newbies in any way we can. I well remember how I felt when I first posted and came back to following day to find six comments on the post encouraging me, welcoming me, putting a few words down to say "hi and welcome" to this unknown caregiver from Australia, way over the other side of the Pacific. I had never posted on an American site before, hardly knew any Americans and I was so impressed. I have grown to appreciate so many people who I would never have know if I had not come on here, people who have become very dear to me. Some have left to go on with their lives and I have missed them, but others have come on just a short while ago and I see them as potential friends too.

 

This is a great support site, it is somewhat under utilized at the moment but it still has that same potential, to give people like us support and information that will help them with their journey. I am so grateful for all who have supported me here and given me the privilege of their company in chat, their cheerful remarks on my blog and especially the good thoughts and prayers that have come my way in times of trouble. Thank you all.

 

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Reading various blogs and forum posts has really helped me in my recovery (stil not complete) in these last 7 years since my stroke. Thank you to all.

Elizabethc

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Sue

 

U r spot on no wonder I m still around after 12 years no wonder I m blog junkie I get so much out of them even if I m just reading them find very therapeutic for my soul. I practically feel it's my moral obligation to pay it forward what I received from this site.

 

Asha

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Thank You Sue:  I, as a new caregiver,on this site joined to find knowledge from others that are going through what I have gone through.  I very much appreciate the words of encouragement along with suggestions.  I will admit that I have found myself saddened or slightly depressed while reading some post. Not because I didn't like what was said, but more that it forced me to look at reality a bit more than I wanted to.  None-the-less, I have found great comfort in reading other's blogs and forums...and I have found great comfort in blogging myself.  I love the way in which the Almighty One brings us to support.  I thank you for your dedication to be there for someone like myself.  I appreciate you.

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This site has given me a place to feel I belong,I am seen and heard,I can tell my story today and tomorrow, I cn share my gratitude or my opinion, I can ask for help,I can be honest and not rejected, I learn about myself,about you and strokes,I have a place to be known,I have a place to show up and be accountable,to be comforted,to be strong for.

 

I love hearing your stories. They are gifts. I am blessd tobe on this site.

 

Pam

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Thank you for all you do To make this site possible. You share so much support and you are my personal friend online and a friend to all others who come here needing care. I learn about giving support from you. All of your blogs are from the heart and I am blessed to experience reading those as well as the advice and info. You create a safety place to open our hearts too and share. Who you are makes a difference. You respond to all our bogs. Thank you for seeing us. I hope you know how vital you all are in my world.

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Thanks Pam, that was a lovely thing to say.  I always talk about the blog writers as the  Blog Community as I think of it as a group of people who tell each other about their lives. That is why I am pleased when people come back and update us as it is like family members dropping in and sad when people disappear and I don't know why.

 

I was told when I first joined as a chat host that would happen and it has been one of the downsides over the years that someone you have become fond of just disappears without saying goodbye. But that also means you get to meet and get to know new people too so as long as I am needed here I will stay and help out.

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