When I volunteered for peer to peer work, I did it to see the small efforts I made bring positive change and assistance to others. Removing fear and introducing the possibility of hope where little existed because of a medical diagnosis or event.
Over time I have met a lot of personality types with varied presentations but after a while I became attuned to who was sitting in front of me, even before they spoke. Common Sense told me to let them speak, as they were there to do just that. Probably the bigger part of peer support is letting people getting things off of their chest.
For me to be effective, I need to give a little of myself within a conversation, to show I have my vulnerabilities too and have been on a similar journey. It forms the bond of common experience that brings trust to the table and allows the “magic” of a simple conversation to happen. I’ll make no bones about it peer to peer support isn’t complicated its’ just time and chat.
Whilst I can talk to audiences, my biggest satisfaction is the accumulation of smaller victories by talking to people one at a time and helping them find the solution to their problems. Long term I’d like to develop some of those I have helped, so that they too might experience that satisfying moment when the table is turned and you are helping, rather than seeking help.
In helping others never assume that you will ever stop learning. If you do, you will soon trip yourself up. You also need to contemplate that some lessons will be harder than others. And some very hard indeed. I’ll let the message speak for itself.
Its 6:30pm on a Saturday night and I get a text on my phone, for me that is unusual
Hi, It’s Beth here we met at Cardiac Support Group with my husband Steve.
Sadly wanted to let you know that Steve died before he had his aortic surgery . He collapsed at home and nothing could be done he had a massive aortic dissection . He was due to have surgery but died on the 14 days before the scheduled date.
We are all devastated and all the more so as I know the cardiac team and feel incredibly let down by the system of waiting lists .
Thank you for the time you gave to him that evening he appreciated meeting you
These are people you have sat down with and shared time with, spoken to them about their future and how it might look? How do you reply, what do you say ?
As the title says “The Hardest Lessons Come Unexpectedly”.