The Gravity of the Situation
I was updating The Complete I Couldn’t Care Less this week and I noticed that this entry will be number 52. Technically, it’s not a year since I started prattling in this space, that was ages ago, but it will do as a chance to summarise what we’ve learned so far. I’ve tried to attend to my fellow carers to a certain extent, by sharing my own experiences of caring. This, in theory a least, has the dual benefit of giving them something to relate to (discovering other people share your experiences can be such a relief) and also because, if I have done my job properly, it gives the wider world some sort of insight into what they are doing. Increasingly, however, I have given much time and space to talking about the wider world and how it conducts itself. But if I am trying to write for and about carers, why does the behaviour of the rest of the world matter so much?
Well, there is the issue of care gravity. I mean care as in the emotional connection rather than the practical action, and gravity as in the force rather than the degree of seriousness. Compassion exists within pockets, like planets in the universe. Compassion as the same impact, it pulls in people, and people with a strong care ‘drag’ can soon find themselves orbited by any number of people who need support. Imagine how much easier it would be for them if the people I need were distributed more easily in the universe? If everyone was equally caring and simply picked up whoever was nearest. Here are a couple of practical examples:
In the shop where I work I periodically see parents bringing in their offspring (sometimes children, sometimes adult) who are too mentally fragile to be generally allowed out without supervision. The most painfully poignant scenario is when you see elderly adults with their middle-aged but sadly incapable children. It’s hard to escape the thought that one day soon the parents will be dead, and who then will care for their children? Casting that thought aside for a moment, there is a small and simple way we can all make life a bit easier for them. One of the great observable stressors is keeping both eyes on junior all the time. Imagine how much easier it would be for them to know that, should their youngsters scamper momentarily from their sight, they need not fret as they could be safe in knowledge that the world would be kind to them? If they got lost or distressed, some friendly shop assistant would calm them down, or a kind-hearted passer-by would find their find their parent for them? Whatever happened, people would not be mean to them, not tease them or make fun of them?
Well they can’t, so it’s eyes on the kid all the time and panic if you can’t see them. They may be 48, but given the way they generally behave in public and the way the public generally behaves around them, you can’t take chances. So for them, every little helps. Maybe yours in the one shop where they can be confident the staff will be kind and tolerant. Maybe you can be the person they are relieved to see rescuing their child from the mayhem they have created and bringing them safely back to mum and dad without a fuss. You can make that difference. Ten of you could make a massive difference. Don’t be defeated by the scale of the challenge. Anyway, onwards to example number two:
You (sorry about switching the perspective here, but it works for me) are a carer for your elderly mother. You were due togo round to her this evening, take over her shopping, hang her laundry and make her tea. But then you have a nasty fall and have to be taken to hospital for some checks. So what about your poor mum? Who is going to look after her in your place? Well, no problems there, all you need to do is get a quick message to her neighbours, who have a spare set of keys and can easily go round and look after mum for you. Even if they can’t, the neighbours the other side can. Either way, you can rest safe in the knowledge that people will happily pick up the baton and look after your mum in your absence.
Sometimes, of course, this happens, but not always. Not as often as it should, and it should happen always. So here is another way you can chip in and ease the burden of the carers. Get involved, offer to look after a spare set of keys, check up on the caree, do a bit of shopping, make some dinner for them, whatever. Take away a bit of the burden. Do what you can. It really makes such a difference knowing you are there.
Also, carers, why not drop by Carers of H2G2? You know it makes sense.