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Bystand or Stand By

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!

I’ve been reading a lot of accounts of families providing care for a loved one with an illness or injury.  The world is filled with unanswerable questions so it’s not uncommon to be stuck in the role of bystander.  However, bystanders are usually those who see an event and choose to stand back, stay uninvolved and certainly keep both their physical and emotional distance.  Is that even possible?

The one factor most notable about caregivers is that you stand by your loved one.  You understand the nuanaces that create the wellness partner dynamic.  It’s like a political campaign where you endorse a candidate.  You throw your support behind your candidate for wellness; that’s a huge deal.  Obviously you can’t campaign for wellness (although an interesting idea), but endorsing someone means having faith in their abilities to return to wellness or to be resilient in their process.  We know that not everyone will get better, but we also know that anyone can experience healing and that’s the biggest thing you as a caregiver can lobby for in the illness arena.

Bystanders stand back far enough so they won’t “get in the way”, but when you “stand by” your loved one you help guide the ship.  Since I seem to be using political analogies I should keep the ball rolling.  When you stand by your loved one you become the “chief of staff” for the person who are providing care.  You’re the highest ranking member in the patient’s health cabinet.  Your opinion counts…it counts big.  You have a unique perspective that needs to be considered if the partnership is going to work and trust me…it is a partnership.

The role your choose is your in fact a choice unlike the patient who doesn’t get to opt-out of their illness.  I hope that you honor the choices you make because they are quite impactful.  When you have the opportunity to take a stand your voice needs to be strong and loud because it may have to be heard above the roar of the emotional negative committee in the patient’s head.  I know it sounds like an insurmountable task, but I know you’re up to it.

Are you a bystander or do you stand by the patient?  How do you know the difference in the role you choose?  Share your “stand by” experience and how it makes a difference in the world.


I've lived my life in service to others. I'm focused on mental health and how it impacts our relationships, culture, and society. Through creative expression and narrative I believe we can impact change.

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