Caring for the sick: my thoughts about CaringBridge.org

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.

17 thoughts on “Caring for the sick: my thoughts about CaringBridge.org

  1. A great idea. I’ve seen many sick patients who are only one or two people away from having no one to look out for them, and some do have no one, other than agencies to check on them. It would be nice to share the wealth with some of them. The overwhelmed patients should feel gratitude they have such a large number of caring individuals in their lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a wonderful idea! Thanks for sharing this story, Claudette. It’s always so nice to hear about things humans do that are just completely heart felt and wonderful. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have nothing but admiration for the doctors we work with but they mostly work with my husband. They are very busy but excellent with keeping him alive. For me, the spirit sometimes is challenging.

    Like

  4. This means so much to me that my husband notices. I want family, his family, my family to reach out more but I am not sure they quite understand that I am on the front line. I am grateful he recognizes me and my “Feelings.” This is why I try to go light in my blog. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Funny you should bring this up. I have an advanced stage metastatic cancer, and the support I get is first class. Thing is, my wife is going through my cancer as well, in a totally different way, and sometimes my “support” group does not appreciate what my condition is doing to her. Everything that happens to me affects her….my tiredness, my treatment, my headaches…all of it. Sometimes my support group needs to hit pause on my support, and offer her the same understanding.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really hard to do what the patient and immediate family want us support people to do when we don’t know what to do. I mean, some patients just send out an email and are done with it. Others go on facebook…there’s many ways to communicate. A sign on the door (much like ‘do not solicit here’)…

      Have a look at CaringBridge. It might take a bit of time to set it up in terms of reaching pepole, but once it’s up you will note that many people, probably the majority, will appreciate and follow the updates to your wishes. And there’s a mobile app that is easy to navigate.

      Are you managing ok? I have not heard of this type of cancer. Thank you for sharing your view, I hope people take the time to read the comments. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My cancer is a little rare. Stage 3B Small intestinal cancer. It is metastatic, which means the cancer has gotten into the blood stream and can spread to other parts of the body. Mine has, but the immunotherpy has been very successful in keeping it at bay for the last 4 years. But still Eve (my wife) notices the small, subtle changes and has no one to share her concerns with. Maybe just once someone should look her way and ask her how she is doing.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. This sounds so amazing and helpful. I wonder if they have any kind of a flip side to this for those that don’t have this kind of overwhelming outpouring of support? Like for those that don’t have close friends or family? Seeing this just made me think about those that had to do it all on their own without any kind of help.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. CaringBridge is a great communication tool for all of the reasons you cite. As your friend did in suggesting friends and families help people around them, I challenge your readers to also be there specifically for those who deal with serious mental illnesses and those who love them. They need support as much as anyone dealing with a difficult health situation.

    I hope your friend is regaining her health.

    Liked by 1 person

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