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When strangers become friends 
Started by Cath1
03 Apr 2012, 8:11 PM

Hi everyone!:-)

Today when thinking about those of us involved in the Virtual Hospice forum and our various stories and needs, it made me appreciate how wonderful it is that we live in such a time of technical advancement with so many opportunities to give and receive support – virtually.

Pondering how very isolated I felt when my Mom was ill and I was much younger, I see now the hope and positive direction the world is taking us in terms of social supports. I love social media and the Internet and our ability to find one another, no matter how rare is our circumstance, no matter how alone we may at times feel, there is always someone “out there” who will understand our need.

Strangers become fast friends in a forum such as Virtual Hospice. I don’t know if it because of the anonymity we may choose to shield ourselves from being exposed to those we know and love, but I do find that being able to express my thoughts and feelings in a supportive and non-judgmental environment is extremely helpful. Families and friends mean well, but sometimes the objective input we receive from those who don’t know us in our personal lives reaches us more directly. Sometimes we can say among “strangers” what is nearly impossible to share with those intimately involved in our lives. There is less pressure.

Here in this online community we need not accommodate anything but the truth, and in our lives the truth of how we are feeling is important and needs an outlet of expression and acceptance. Sometimes it feels simply too painful to share our deepest thoughts with those we love most.

For me, having a safe place to talk and listen to others about life from beginning to end allows me the chance to feel I am lightening the emotional burden of my feelings for those in my own inner circle of family and friends. Please don’t get me wrong, I think that our closest relationships provide us with unequalled love, comfort and support, but there are moments and specific times in our lives, certain circumstances where the kindness of strangers is just what we need.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I believe there is a time and place for everything, and I am so grateful to share my time in this special place with all of you.

How do you feel about virtual strangers? Are we transformed by the experience we share online? Do you consider those you relate to online as real friends?

Cath1

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Reply by NatR
05 Apr 2012, 4:38 PM

Hello  Cath1,

I certainly agree with what you wrote.  Personally I have been given so much great understanding and support...just from strangers I have met online.  They dont know me personally, nor do I know them.  But somehow...typed word DO make a difference.  There is a form of personality that is transported with the words.

Not only do I get support but I try and give it back.  I am grateful that in this day and age we can reach out - not be laughed at - not be judged or Poo pood on our stand, our feelings..our crises..our breakdowns.

I believe that medical staff from doctors down to personal care providers are beginning to realize that online connections are important and necessary - in this new world of instant communication.

Where else can you pour out your feelings and get support, listeners, advice, information and comfort.

Not sure why or how it works but I just know..it does.
Often meetings remain superficial...a question answered, a situation advised on, and then it is enough.  Sometimes - and I am grateful for this - connections continue, grow stronger and evolve into personal and real life connections via phone, skype, facebook, real meetings with those supportive souls who care enough to reply to that first note.

Family and community real life friends and support are very important but as you said  Cath1...there are times...when you just want to share it with someone who isnt in your circle.

I am eternally grateful for sites like virtualhospice.ca and for chat forums in other areas like Twitter, Facebook etc.  The more support we can give and get - the better we will do at supporting others who need us.

NatR
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Reply by eKIM
12 Apr 2012, 4:42 PM

I am very happy to have found this forum.  As a hospice volunteer, I find that no one - not even my family who love me - fully "get" what we are doing and experiencing. 

When I am at the hospice, I do all of my "thinking" with my heart.  Try to explain this to someone (most people) who listen with their head.

Trying to explain the experience is like trying to condense 1,000,000 into 1,000.

As far as “opening up” to people in a forum such as this, I am reminded of the quote by Blanche DuBois in the “Streetcar Named Desire” where she says: "I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."

There is a phenomena of life wherein, from time to time, we come upon a compassionate stranger to whom we “open up”.  It can be a cathartic and even life-altering moment. 

We are very fortunate to be blessed with this opportunity in our times of need.  We can re-pay Karma by leaving ourselves open to the needs of others when the time comes.

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Reply by NatR
12 Apr 2012, 5:52 PM

Hello Ekim,

What nice words you have written.  Its true isnt it?  Sometimes strangers perspective and contribution to us in our hour of need is so much different from the perspective of people who are close to us.

As a Hospice volunteer - I am sure your emotional gift to those in need is great.  When you feel like your batteries are drained then coming to a forum such as this is exactly what you need.

As a PSW, and now as a family caregiver for a vulnerable child - I can see it from more than one angle.  I also have seen the need for caregiver support for a long time.

I am grateful to VirtualHospice for providing the chance to talk, unload, get info and compassion, and just feel like you have some support.

Working in LTC I could have used such a forum...but it wesnt something I knew about then.  We give of our very being when we care for others.  We give so much out that we need to recharge, find someone who "gets" what we do, what we see, and what we need at the end of a shift or a week or when we lose a friend, client, resident or family member.

Please have a great day and know that your volunteer work is valuable & so very important to both the family and the client you serve.  I have great respect for what you do.
Sincerely,
NatR 
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Reply by Cath1
13 Apr 2012, 12:13 AM

Hi Ekim:

Welcome to Virtual Hospice!;-) You will find our community very welcoming and inclusive no doubt. We need you!  

I just wrote you a welcome and then my mouse flew off the table and I lost it - the post not my composure, but almost both!:-) 

When you wrote about your experience in hospice care and that even family don't "get it" I understand. I don't think everyone is meant to get it as we each have a different path to travel and we arrive at the place we are meant to be in our own time.  

I look forward to reading more of your insightful posts. With your acquired wisdom and gentle heart I am sure many will follow you to a place where there is warm comfort and kind care awaiting. Now that you're here with us, you are no longer a stranger!;-)

Cath1 

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