I first heard about CaringBridge through a friend who experienced a cancer scare recently.
When my friend was diagnosed with cancer and started going through all the various treatments, one thing she noticed quickly was just how caring and involved her support system wanted to be toward her.
Everyone called, sent emails or texts, and knocked on her door offering support, meals, help with the house or garden, dog walking and sitting and a variety of other services people tend to want or need when they’re sick and can’t do things for themselves.
But, as many of us know, it can get a bit much.
Imagine what it must feel like for a person who is responding to all the well-wishers on behalf of the sick person, not to mention what it must feel like for the sick person, to continuously repeat the same story to everyone.
It’s hard under the best circumstances, even harder under crappy circumstances.
One day while my friend was going through her cancer ordeal, I got an invitation in my email inbox to join CaringBridge. I clicked on it, looked around and immediately approved.
CaringBridge felt familiar to me in the way that my blog does.
Here’s the little blurb that shows up when you google it:
Essentially, it’s a method of communication set up by either the sick person herself, or someone on her behalf (usually a spouse, or it could also be a parent if it’s the child who is sick).
I really like this idea.
The initial message my friend sent out on this platform was to suggest to people to kindly avoid calling, emailing or texting her, and to please not just show up randomly at her door. She found it overwhelming and too difficult to respond to every message or visitor adequately and it exhausted her to repeat everything multiple times per day.
She also suggested not to bug her husband the same way.
Instead, she, or her husband, would update any message they felt like sharing on this CaringBridge platform. Only people who were accepted into the CaringBridge program by her or her husband would be able to read about her personal story, her progress, her needs, and her prognosis.
Having been through several serious illnesses within my own family circle, I can appreciate how much this type of technology can help someone, especially the caregiver who has to field the calls and visitors. When my partner’s sister was diagnosed with cancer, and subsequently died within 6 weeks of the diagnosis, her adult daughter was beyond exhausted dealing with all the well-wishers, visitors, and incoming questions on top of caring for her sick mom, and her mom’s financial and related stuff and her own health and life. She didn’t know about CaringBridge…and neither did I at the time, else I would have suggested it to her.
My friend with the cancer took full advantage of CaringBridge and updated her page sometimes several times a week, sometimes once a month. Occasionally, her husband, or daughter, would update the page for her. Either way, all of us invitees would see the message and know what to do (or not do).
For instance, there was one reminder that had us all chuckling.
Apparently, most people assumed the husband would slowly starve to death from lack of home cooking (or die a horrible death from inadequate nutrition supplied by fast food outlets) that they received frozen, home-cooked meals by well-meaning individuals in the neighbhourood.
One day a message, which sounded more like a plea, was placed on her CaringBridge page. In it she thanked everyone for their time and efforts, but to please refrain from bringing any more food into the house. They could feed a small army with all of the casseroles and soups that people had dropped off. Instead, she asked if they could take a look around their own neighbourhood and choose an elderly person, or a young, overwhelmed family, and lend a hand to them instead. She was sure that a home-cooked, ready-to-eat meal would be equally as appreciated as it was by her and her husband.
I thought it was a great idea.
I also think the CaringBridge program is a great idea.
Give it a thought if you find yourself in a similar situation. I would imagine CaringBridge is only one of several similar programs…but it certainly helped my friend and her family out during their challenging time.