Listening is a crucial gift to offer those affected by chronic illness
Lending an ear is a great way to support loved ones facing medical challenges
I’m training to become a chaplain. I want to work in a hospital setting one day, which will allow me to serve patients facing medical challenges. I’ll also have the privilege of walking with those who are in their last days. Sitting with people who are struggling at the hands of something they cannot control is profound and sacred.
During the years when my youngest son, Caeleb, was in and out of the hospital regularly due to complications of hemophilia, my husband and I always declined the services of a chaplain. My husband is a pastor, so why would we need someone to visit us? I now realize that I missed out on the spiritual care that chaplains provide. I should’ve allowed someone to sit with me and listen.
Too often, caregivers don’t allow others to help — whether that means not allowing people to bring over the occasional meal, or declining a friend’s offer to sit with a sick child. The idea of being strong can get in the way of what is desperately needed: a moment to take a deep breath.
Most parents and caregivers of children with chronic illness carry a deep sense of responsibility. We might not even consider asking for help. Society impresses upon people the need to be superhuman. Not only do those of us with chronically ill children take on the demands of work and family, but we must also deal with the complexities of managing our child’s care.
Numerous articles and platforms offer information about how to manage caregiver stress and burnout. However, perhaps there’s another, more crucial gift we can give the parents of a chronically ill loved one.
We don’t need to fix the problem to be of help
Friends and family members want nothing more than to support those struggling with medical issues. Unfortunately, a lack of understanding about the condition often keeps them from reaching out.
Sometimes in my pastoral ministry, people come to me for pastoral care. Most of the time, I’m unfamiliar with the struggles people are facing. Therefore, I don’t try to fix their situation; they simply need someone to listen.
The need to fix is an instinct many people possess. I urge them to let go of the need to understand and solve. Instead, try to sit and listen without judgment. The world needs to reclaim the art of listening.
Listening is learning. The person speaking is being heard, and the one listening is gaining new understanding. That’s a great combination.
Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.