It is rarely the obvious people.
I’ve spent a lot of time lately connecting in a new way with my Grandma. Last winter I spent a lot of time in the coastal town where her nursing home is located and visited her every couple of days.
This time together allowed us to connect in a way we hadn’t before – just us, alone, sharing what we are doing and our daily concerns, and getting more familiar than the usual ‘grandmother and granddaughter during an occasional quick holiday visit’. It got us past the small talk and the big download of what we have been doing for the past couple of months. We got to work on projects together and I now know most of the people around her in the nursing home. It’s that familiarity that comes with regular contact blossoms into deeper friendship.
We talk on the phone now at least once a week – never scheduled – and it’s delightful. But we are also sharing things that we have in common in this phase of our lives that neither of us realised until this recent time together.
She has her health issues. I have mine. We are both learning to navigate the world of pain and inconvenience while trying to stay upbeat. I give her reminders to take deep breaths on the hard pain days and she pats my hand and gently tells me to take good care in a way that lands deep inside.
She lives in a place where everyone has some sort of health issue and it’s just accepted. The health issue is treated with utmost care of course, but it is just part of life in a nursing home. In my world, it feels like there are many people dealing with health issues in isolation, where society makes a big deal about living with health issues instead of accepting them as part of life at whatever age.
On the flip side, I live with access to any information I want and need, and can learn from so many people around the world via the internet about living with chronic conditions. My community may be invisible to me other than through my phone screen, and my grandmother’s community is around her in person but may not be sharing what they have learnt with their experiences.
If my Grandma had access to read this blog, she would be all over it*. Not because it’s her Granddaughter’s work, but because a lot of the topics I have talked about here, are what we talk about and apply to her too. We talk about the best way to describe something to a doctor, and how to pace ourselves through the day, and things that bring us joy amongst the difficulties.
When we open up and share, we never really know who is going to need to hear it the most and how they may benefit. It may be the most unlikely of people or in completely different circumstances, and that’s why it’s important to share – so someone else feels connected and seen and feels safe to say ‘me too’.
It is possible to share your difficulties without inciting the ‘poor you’ response and instead show that this is how your life is at the moment, accepting what it is while still working towards the big picture of relief or a solution from the difficulty. Sometimes we don’t want to share in case it worries the person, which is how I felt with my Grandma, but instead it allowed us to both share more deeply what we are going through, how we manage it, sharing our knowledge, and bond over it in a way that deepens the relationship.
So I encourage you, if you feel safe and comfortable to do so, to share your story and experiences. The people who connect with your story may surprise you and it is rarely who we expect it to be.
Take good care, Readers. I’ll keep the light on.
*My Grandmother doesn’t have internet access because she does not need to know how to shop online. She would be buying art and crochet supplies ‘til the cows come home!
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I hope you have people and places where you don’t have to be strong too.Keep reading