Geeks Vs Loneliness: caring for someone with a long-term illness

A few words for those of you who care for someone whose health is in decline...

Welcome to Geeks Vs Loneliness, our weekly slot where we just stop for a minute and try and natter about things that may be affecting you, or people you know. No miracle solutions, only subtle mentions of Jason Statham and no one-size-fits-all answers here. But hopefully, something we pen here will be of use to you or someone you know at some point.

This week, just a gentle hug for those nursing friends and relatives through long term illness.

However mawkish it is to declare that life and time are precious, it doesn’t make it any less true. And to see a loved one slowly deteriorate before you is one of the most heartbreaking things any of us will see in life.

It comes with an added bolt-on, too: guilt. That constant nagging feeling of am I doing enough? Am I neglecting the people around me? Am I getting worse at my job because I need to care for someone? Am I a bad person for thinking any of this, and not just concentrating on the person who’s ill?

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If any of these resonates, then this post is for you.

Because the truth is that life doesn’t stop. That the majority of people will be utterly oblivious to what you’re going through, and how it’s ripping you apart. And as such, they’ll assume that it’s business as usual. There’s no malice there, but it’s sometimes worth alerting people around you that there’s a reason you can’t stay late/go and watch a film.

Just as they may have no idea what’s going on behind the scenes of your life, you equally are unlikely to know what’s going on in theirs. We say this quite a lot in Geeks Vs Loneliness pieces, but it’s true: we each only get a two dimensional snapshot of most people’s lives. We don’t know their loves, hates, kinks, problems, issues, health and such like in great detail. And that’s fine. But conversely, it’s okay to be a human being. It’s okay to open up.

Perhaps even more importantly, it’s okay not to feel guilty. You don’t have to. You still need to earn a living and pay the bills. You still need to look after yourself. This doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s a by-product of the complexities of life.

Also: it’s okay to have some time for yourself. It’s okay to not spend every last minute with the person you’re caring for. It’s okay to have a drink, to watch a film, to go to bed early, to tit around on the internet.

See? Told you there were no magic answers here. But what you can have, for what it’s worth, is a great big ball of support from us. You are entitled to a life, and we dearly wish it’s a good one.

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We write about a lot of superheroes at this site. But the most humbling, wonderful heroes are the ones we don’t see, who don’t wear a cape, who instead take time out of their lives to selflessly care for another human being. To those people, have a virtual coffee and a virtual biscuit. And please know that you’re important, and that you matter, and that you’re brilliant. No matter what games your head may be playing with you.

Thanks, as always, for reading.