Posts Tagged ‘Caring Bridge’

Caring Bridge–a Brilliant Service I Hope You Never Need

Several years ago, when a then acquaintance and now dear, dear friend, was valiantly fighting (and eventually kicking the ass of) Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, she spent a lot of time in the hospital, and more time in bed at home, wiped out by the battle raging within and the weapons used by the doctors to win. As is so beautifully the case around the world when a friend or family member faces illness or is somehow incapacitated, those in the inner circle rally and come around to make life a bit easier in any way they can…ordering in favorite take-out food, bringing cookies, getting kids to school or appointments, taking care of pets, driving to doctor’s appointments, just hanging out quietly, springing for a massage or manicure or some way to indulge, fresh flowers…there are as many ways to reach out in a caring way as there are people who are inclined to do so.

One of the things I remember so vividly from that time was that our friend’s partner sent out a chain of emails with amazing regularity and incredible detail, updating those of us that weren’t in regular contact on her condition and current needs. His messages were witty and erudite and filled with every little nubbin of info…that’s his style, but I remember not only having the thought myself, but also discussing with several mutual friends: This is amazing how we are able to follow this journey. A large group of us laughed and cried and laughed a lot more, and knew how we could best check in, and know when NOT to bring the fourteenth tuna noodle casserole thinking it would be just what she wanted. Even from afar, I felt so close to the day-to-day, and remember thinking there should be a way for any family to do this, to keep loved ones in the loop.

Caring Bridge is a non-profit organization, funded by donors, that provides free, private websites to people experiencing significant health challenges so they can maintain and strengthen contact and communication. It is a personal and private space for health updates as well as messages and support from all the friends/family/colleagues/community, and it saves time and emotional energy when those things are at a premium. Not having to tell the story of what the doctor said or how a treatment is going a zillion times to a zillion well-meaning friends can be liberating for a patient and immediate circle. Photos, updates, health reports, well wishes, needs and requests, all of it can be posted on the easy-to-set-up websites, and a patient can read them any time of day or night, since energy and visiting times don’t always correspond. Every day, more than half a million people are already using the service in more than 225 countries around the world.

In this age of constant contact and social media, what better use of communication technology than finding ways to support one another? If you’d like to support Caring Bridge with a tax-deductible donation, click here.

Caring Bridge

There is no more important time to rally the forces of family and friends than during a serious illness. From keeping caring loved ones in-the-know whether they are visiting or from afar, to coordinating who might do shopping or cooking to support a family that can’t take focus away from healing for daily tasks…communication is key. Being able to form a broad network of support adds to the practicality of getting better.

Several years ago, when a dear friend was diagnosed and undergoing treatment for lymphoma, her partner developed an email list with regular updates about her condition, tests, mood, fears, as well as a rotation schedule of friends who would do shopping, pick up prescriptions, and make the odd casserole here and there. This was before the ubiquitous presence of social networking, and now, the non-profit organization Caring Bridge takes it one step further toward user friendliness. And you don’t have to be a computer whiz to create your own healing network. Caring Bridge gives you simple tools to build a free website to connect family and friends during a serious health event, care, and recovery.

A CaringBridge website is personal, private and available 24/7. It helps ease the burden of keeping family and friends informed. The websites are easy to create and use. Authors add health updates and photos to share their story while visitors leave messages of love and support in the guestbook.

My wish is that you never need Caring Bridge, but if you do, it is a gift to have such a tool so readily at hand.