Today I went to a small family gathering. My grandad was there, as was his very close friend. There are some things you should know about my Grandad and his friend. He is 97yrs old, has a Lewy Body Dementia diagnosis and was relatively self-reliant until a couple of years ago. Now he lives in a care home.

His very good friend is 100yrs old. She is still independent and currently shows no signs of dementia though she does get a little muddled at times. (I wish that is my only complaint as I age.) She is also registered blind, though she can see shapes, and is deaf.

They first became friends after my Nan died eighteen years ago and they have been wonderful companions for each other, talking together daily and often into the depths of the night. They met at church. They talk about their lives, growing up, their spouses, their families and anything else that pops into their heads. I have always loved watching them together and seeing them get lost in conversation, even when they are in a crowded room.

I had not seen them together since my grandad went into a care home last year. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw them together today. I kept thinking it must be hard for my grandad’s friend as so many of her friends are dying or ill. I thought it might be awkward and not as enjoyable as it used to be. But I was so wrong.

When we first arrived, I could tell grandad was a little out of sorts and confused. He was talking a lot about being taken out of his work to come for a meal and wasn’t sure if he was going to get laid off. He often thinks the care home is where he works. His friend was fairly quiet and I didn’t get a chance to speak with her until after dinner.

After our meal I sat down with them both and just watched. She couldn’t always hear him properly. He was struggling to get his words out and his stories were sometimes muddled. Nevertheless, she remained attentive to his every word. I could see that she was with him no matter whether the words reached her ears or not. She was connected to him with love and care. Somehow, she seemed to say the exact perfect thing at every moment.

My Grandad would start to get agitated when he could not find his words or stay on track, but her words and attention calmed him.  She looked at him with pure love in her eyes, even though the friend she once had was hardly recognisable. Where I thought I might see sadness, I just saw love. She would gently place a hand on his arm and just keep it there whilst he spoke, as if silently communicating that she was still there. I could just feel the spiritual connection between the two of them. Thinking about it now makes me feel quite emotional.

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I have often felt this intense spiritual connection when I have been with someone else. There may be silence, but so much of the unsaid is still being communicated. But I have hardly ever witnessed this between two other people. Maybe the only other time I can think of is when my grandad was stroking my nan’s hair in hospital in the days before she died. So, one time it was my grandad giving care, and this time he was receiving it. The circular nature of this does not escape me.

It set me thinking. I know this care happens everywhere daily, but why is it that we don’t always see it?

Is it because this deep spiritual connection mainly happens where people are unwell, struggling or vulnerable – including the care that is given to babies?  And that in general we have placed these circumstanmces of vulnerability outside of the public view of daily life and community?  We no longer care for each other or raise our children as part of a village. It all happens unseen inside private homes, health care settings or care facilities.

It saddens me that this type of care is not witnessed more publicly, because if you need any proof of the essential goodness of life and people, it is in these vulnerable circumstances that you will find it.

If we ever question whether just being quiet and loving is enough, it is these silent moments of healing that prove its power, more powerful than any words or actions. In fact, I believe that the greatest gift we can give anyone is to hold a space of unconditional love, patience and acceptance. This state not only benefits the people giving and receiving the care, but also blesses those that witness it too. Like me today, having spent that time with my grandad, I felt myself slip into a spiritual and contented place. I was completely at one with myself, life and everything around me. I felt the benevolent energy that is all around us and the love between all of us. I feel better for simply witnessing spiritual care being given.

Now just imagine if everyone could see that care on a daily basis and we did not just reserve it for someone when vulnerable, but gave it in all our daily interactions. I think that would be a pretty amazing world to live in.

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