We’ve received a supportive and very touching email following Lynne’s plea for advice on life after caring. The email came from Ian who is a former carer and who has also kindly offered to give an informal talk to carers at future CALL groups.
In May 2008 nine months after being diagnosed with cancer, my eldest daughter Melissa died. The mix of emotions was overwhelming. In the
final days of her life, wanting her to die, to be free of pain, but at the same time feeling enormous guilt that I was having such thoughts. In the months
that followed her death I had a need to keep busy. I threw myself into writing a book, based on the blogs Mel and I wrote during her illness. I decided
to raise money for a cancer charity by cycling from London to Paris.
Suddenly, I was the centre of attention again and more importantly, so was Melissa. People wanted to hear our story. Some didn’t, some crossed the road to avoid having to speak to us, but most wanted to know how the cycle training was going or which chapter I was up to in my writing. Some were genuinely interested, some were just nosey!
I too missed contact with the nurses and health professionals who would visit us, I also missed contact with Mel’s university friends who would come and visit her. (Thank the Lord for Facebook). Then there were the hidden anniversaries, setting the table for three instead of four, not receiving texts about the football when Mel’s team won and mine lost! Subsequent years have seen Melissa’s friends get married and have babies, sometimes not in that order!
Like Lynne, I suffered anxiety, and whereas Lynne had depression, I was grief stricken. There was an overwhelming desire to have her back, to care for her once more. But that would mean she would be in pain and I didn’t want that. Conflicting emotions!
That was nearly six years ago. There isn’t a day goes by that I don’t think, oh, this time six years ago we were doing this, that or the other. Sometimes it makes me smile, other times I cry.
How do I deal with it? My job has changed for a start. I was an admin officer with Staffordshire Police, I then became a fundraiser for the Lymphoma Association, I’m now the Community Engagement Officer at St. Giles. I volunteer for the National Council for Palliative Care and I’m a Dying Matters champion too. It was the National Council for Palliative Care that made me realise that I was a carer.
Up until that point, I’d just considered myself as a parent doing a parent’s job.
I was of course, but I was also a carer and I had experience that they wanted
me to share. I still have to keep busy.
I think I’ve changed as a person too. I campaign for good end of life care and
bereavement support for everyone. I think that I am more tolerant of people.
I appreciate what is important in life. Without realising it, Lynne is doing
something very positive and amazing. She’s telling her story. She may not
realise it, but there are people out there who really need to hear carer’s stories like
Lynne’s. It helps to shape care in the future and also make things better for