My work required
frequent travel and my conscience bothered me because I
could not spend more time with my best friend, June,
while she battled a life-threatening disease. As
her condition worsened, I felt very guilty about not
being able to be at her bedside.
I talked with my
therapist about my feelings. She explained that
many seriously ill patients find their favorite
caregiver relationships to be with those who stay in
touch by phone or electronic messaging. There is
sound reasoning behind that point!
visit loved ones or acquaintances facing health
challenges, they often treat him or her as fragile
beings that need to be handled with kid gloves.
The kid glove approach may negatively affect the one who
is experiencing these challenges, making them feel
nothing more than a medical problem.
that statement. After all, visitations can be
extremely uplifting for both involved. But I’m
referring to distance barriers and the impact of seeing
your friend or family member once in a while, when
suddenly you realize the seriousness of the situation.
replace in-person visits, normal conversations take
place because the caregiver does not see her friend’s
deteriorating physical appearance. That is a plus.
It prevents tension that might otherwise surface.
In retrospect, I must admit that when I was out of town,
I did not treat my friend, June, differently when we
talked on the phone. However, when I saw her in
pain and withering away, I was very uncomfortable.
Seeing someone looking gaunt and grim makes it difficult
to sit down and say, “Wow! What a day I’ve had!
Let me tell you…”
I realized there
were some other advantages to being apart. If I
had been with her, she would have tried to stay awake
and talk, even when she needed to rest. Another
plus for both of us was the fun we had when I called.
We would just chat for a few minutes and then I
surprised her by playing her favorite songs or having a
mutual friend say hello.
separation from a loved one who is suffering with pain
may be excruciating for caregivers; but staying in touch
by phone, just hearing that person’s voice, brings
relief. So “Reach out and touch someone.”
(AT&T slogan) It feels good. It is good.
Long Distance Caregivers:
What you can do
to ease the pain of separation.
loved one know you are still there for him or her.
frequently. Hold normal conversations. Do not
focus on the disease. Do talk about what is
happening with friends and family.
favorite music over the phone.
sources of calmness that may ease their path.
Read aloud –
poetry or stories they would enjoy.
jokes, funny stories, pieces of relevant
information, inspirational messages.
electronic chat room with additional friends
surprise packages – musical CDs, movies, books,
crossword puzzles, easy to handle crafts.
bouquet of balloons. Have a clown deliver the
memories the two of you have enjoyed together
Excerpt from Caregivers: Angels
without Wings© by Peg Crandall
Peg Crandall is an author,
Caregiver Coach, Support Group Facilitator and Speaker.
You can reach Peg at
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