Until recently, the popular author Dorothy M Stewart was a full-time family carer for her husband who suffers from dementia as a result of MS. Her book is for those in the same position as she was and who have very little time for themselves. The extract below is just one of her 40 ‘meditations’.
Here to help!
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25.35, 40)
There are so many lovely people out there, kind and willing to help. And then there are the ones who say, ‘Do call us’ and, ‘We’re here to help!’ as they turn cheerfully away leaving you no better off than before. You know these were only empty words, uttered to make the speakers feel they are nice people. And they’ll be feeling better now – because they offered, didn’t they?
Many a time you’ll want to show what you’re feeling but it’s not wise. These people are impregnable in their ‘nice people’ armour and ear plugs. You’ll only make yourself feel worse. Try instead having a little list of simple tasks that you could do with somebody else doing and offer them an easy one, well within their capabilities. That’s right. Give them the opportunity to transform their words-only help into hands-on help. You may be surprised and they’ll actually agree to do something. But even if they don’t, you haven’t lost anything. They have. And if you’re feeling particularly noble, you can make yourself feel even better by praying for them.
Dear Lord, help me to keep my cool with those people who mouth empty words but never actually do anything to help. Please forgive them. And let me be the kind of person who is a real helper to others whenever I can be.
Tell someone who does help you how much you appreciate this help. Saying ‘thank you’ makes everyone feel good!
One Day At A Time: Meditations For Carers by Dorothy M Stewart (SPCK £8.99). Buy this book from Saga Books