At the beginning of the COVID crisis, I had just released my book, Courage to Care - You Can Help Others Who are Suffering. The speaking engagements I had scheduled were all canceled. The COVID pandemic has helped illustrate how we can suffer in many different ways. Some people have gotten very ill, and many thousands have died. Family members suffered because they could not visit in person with those who were ill. We all saw many news reports of people speaking words of love and affection to someone through a phone or computer. No hugs, no whispering into a loved-one’s ear. Most of us had not seen or experienced that kind of peculiar secondary suffering before.
Although I wrote my book to empower people to engage with friends, neighbors or anyone that happens to be in trouble, I found I could not promote it. Everything stopped. We were all experiencing the suffering of being disconnected. We were told to stay home. We could not go see grandma and grandpa. Visits to dear friends and family were put off. We didn’t go in to work. We missed seeing some of our fellow workers. Some people felt out of sorts by being alone and cut off. Others developed serious emotional issues. It was as if we were all in some kind of social experiment, discovering how much we need one another in order to be healthy physically and mentally.
Some people were deemed “essential” workers, health workers, EMT’s, refuse haulers, gas station attendants, grocery personnel, fire fighters, police, and many others. But then we discovered that being essential was both a blessing and a curse. These workers had the good fortune to go to work and earn a living, and the misfortune of catching the disease more frequently than the rest of us. A good number of them died as a consequence of being “essential.”
Although the pandemic is now diminished, the echoes and losses we have all endured will continue to affect our lives. One of the things we can do is to become better caregivers! My book can give readers the courage and the competence to spend time with people who are hurting. Readers will dare to reach out to someone who is ill or in trouble, someone whom you think you cannot really help, because you cannot solve their problem, or heal their illness, or give them a job. But any one of us can be a caring person by using our skills, our love, our concern in a really confident way.
Doing this sort of thing is not just for professionals. It is what we can do because we are human beings, and because we are Christians, followers of Jesus, who said, “Take up your cross daily, . . .” We can actually bear one another’s burdens. And it need not overwhelm us, but rather give us the deep satisfaction and joy that come from being with someone at the right time. I hope you, my reader, will pick up my book and read it. It could change your life, and incidentally, change the lives of others through you. Wouldn’t you like to do that?
I wrote this book after twenty years of interviews with people who had become caregivers, mostly amateurs, people who did it for love. I sought out professional people in caring professions as well. Finally, I spent time with people who had endured very difficult times of suffering and I learned some deep lessons from them. All this has enriched the research I was gathering from published literature. Dozens of true stories make this is a book anyone can read and understand. That’s why I know it can change lives for the good!
© 2021 Stanley Hagemeyer