At BGSG we give support and help in all sorts of different ways.
We support via email, Skype, over the phone and link grandparents up in their own areas so that they can meet up for a coffee ect.
There is no doubt that the most powerful support comes from face to face meetings, being in the same room as others who can give you one to one support, who understand completely. When we talk face to face, we are able to read body language and to hold out a physical hand if necessary. Unlike the written word that can be so easily misunderstood, we tend to type out responses at speed without thinking exactly how those words may come across.
I am also aware that there are times when I need to back off, we all need time and space to be able to get our heads straight, and allow vulnerable people some peace.
As an example, when a grandparent contacts me I reply as soon as possible, the same applies whether it’s email or a phone call. The person who is asking for support has probably taken a long time to make the decision to get in contact, it takes courage, so it is only right that they get a quick response. I know some groups can take weeks to respond to someone, I personally think that is unacceptable.
Once that initial contact is established, it is important that I am then led by the one looking for support.
It could well be that one phone call is all that is needed.
If I am responding to an answerphone message I will ring that person back but if there is no answer I leave a message and wait. I will attempt three times, if the caller doesn’t get back to me, I will leave them in peace. I won’t invade their privacy.
Every now and again I will go through all my contacts, and send a quick email to ask if they are ok and if I haven’t heard anything from them for months I will ask if they still want me to have their contact details or whether they still want to be member of BGSG. Sometimes they will say they no longer need our support, and that can be for all sorts of different reasons.
Of course I respect that and will remove their details from our database.
I have written previously about the grandparent who said to me a very long time ago, “I don’t want to join a group that will make me feel worse than I do already,” it is a sentiment I have never forgotten.
In the passing of time some people want to be able to move on and leave this part of their life behind them, and I try hard to be conscious of when that may be.
Other grandparents have been with me for the last 9 years, and absolutely don’t want to leave the group.
So it is a careful balancing act.
I need to know when to be there and when to just step aside.
I was sent this quote today from a grandparent which I think is very true.
“You only have to forgive once, To resent, you have to do it all day, every day while you keep remembering all the bad things” ML Stedman.