An In Care of Dad Series
by Karen Keller Capuciati
I first heard about CaringBridge from my friend Joanne. She thought it was a great tip to pass along, and she was right. She told me how, when her mom was sick, her family had created a website — through the auspices of CaringBridge.org — to keep everyone updated about her mom’s condition and about any related news that friends and family would want to know.
I had heard about these free sites but I hadn’t really seen the value of the idea. I assumed that building and maintaining a website would require too much time and energy, especially for people who are already in a stressful situation with a serious health challenge in their family. Joanne’s father was apparently skeptical as well, at least at first.
When I saw what Joanne’s sister had created for their mom, Barbara, and their family, I realized I’d been wrong about the idea. Creating a CaringBridge site for our Dad would have been a tremendous help and would have removed quite a bit of the pressure we all felt about keeping everyone up-to-date on Dad’s condition. And Dad would have loved all the messages of support that the website allows for.
Joanne’s Dad was another convert to the idea once he realized that the website could deliver timely updates to friends and family which relieved him of getting involved in lengthy discussions, answering questions or having to take the time to make numerous calls. He liked that he could see how many people would check in every day to find out how they were all doing. But what he really valued the most was the opportunity to read to his wife all the caring messages that friends had left for her and for their family. When he saw what this support meant to his wife, he became a believer in the value of CaringBridge.org.
There are a couple more benefits that I can see. Not only do friends and family get regular updates about the condition of their ill loved one, but they can express their care and concern without bothering the family at a potentially wrong time, or having to ask sensitive questions that might strain a phone call. They don’t have to pry or ask the hard questions — they already know the details. They can even ask, through the website, when the best time to call might be.
By the same token, the site enables families to let readers know when they could use some help beyond just well wishes. For example, you could insert messages on the site such as: Dad could really use a call after dinnertime when he is alone in the hospital (and provide the proper phone number so people can call right up) or: Mom’s coming home from the hospital at the end of the week and she could use some help preparing meals for a while. These websites provide opportunities for families to communicate and come together in ways beyond just updates and encouraging messages.
If this idea appeals to you as much as it has to me and Joanne’s family, you should know that CaringBridge offers technical help and templates to get your site started, with sections for updates, for photographs and for comments from the visitors who want to express their friendship, their blessings and their encouragements. Click here for a short video on how CaringBridge works.
Thank you Joanne for the tip about CaringBridge. A website like this has the potential to help out on a number of levels.