As a bit of a disclaimer: I feel very fortunate to report that I have loving and supportive family and friends. We have all been along for the journey since Kimberly's birth, some more than others. Over the years a kind of acceptance has emerged where questions and confusion once were. It has been a relief to see others in our life as at ease, or nearly so, with Kimberly and her "exceptionalities". For this I am very grateful. I read an article today that a dear friend posted on Facebook about how no one brings a casserole when your daughter is an addict. I thought it was an interesting perspective, and quite true as we all know. The acute physical illness or death in the family warrants a showering of "what can we do to help you through this difficult time?"...the long term illness, actually physical or mental for that matter, does not. Don't the afflicted or the long-term caregiver still need that extra layer of effort? Truly they do. Are nearly sleepless nights that last for years less damaging than those that last for weeks/months? Are families struggling to hold their unions together through stressed finances and fundamental differences of opinion in care any less important when there is no end in sight? Actually, I feel the opposite is true. In many ways, they need that symbol of support, whatever form it takes, even more. Another friend is dealing with long-term care for her permanently injured parent. I think about the suffering my family endured after losing my father and yet, I find myself wondering if our plight would not have been worse to be in her shoes...difficult to compare I know, but a strange thought to balance as I see her struggle to just deal with the problem of the day versus even thinking of contemplating the bigger picture. We all have our lives to navigate daily, and that in itself can be enough for us to bear. Without a doubt though, an outpouring of affection when someone is in need is a beautiful thing. These thoughts don't change my opinion on that front in any way. It's really just an attempt to remind us all that bearing the weight of a challenge indefinitely does not diminish the enormity of that task. Be gentle with those around you, offer what you can of yourself when it is possible. Even when you are the one bearing such a weight, it feels good to lift some off of those you love. 'Tis the season.
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