Yesterday would have been my mother-in-law’s birthday. Almost two years on from her death we spent much of the day with my father-in-law. Flicking through old photographs I was reminded of how it’s not only the dead that are mourned – there are those who grieve for the good times that once were commonplace, for the laughing child who now no longer smiles, for the wasted years that will never be recovered. Later we had lunch in the restaurant of a garden centre where my mother-in law used to like to go for coffee. Sitting at what was once her favourite table, the memories again came back. But she didn’t. All we had were the memories – and the memories weren’t enough.

This week, for a great many, what there was, wasn’t enough.

For some, what they had in the bank wasn’t enough to pay for them to have sufficient heating.
For some, the protection afforded by the law wasn’t enough to stop them from being brutally murdered.
For some, the NHS wasn’t enough to cure them of their disease.
For some, their own sense of self wasn’t enough to get them out of bed in the morning.
For some, the combined force of NATO and the United Nations wasn’t enough to prevent them from becoming victims of the atrocities of war.

And for some, it was me who wasn’t enough. Not strong enough, not wise enough, not kind enough. Not for those who needed me to have been far more of all these things, not for those who discovered that I too wasn’t enough for them.

This week, in a world of grief, a world filled with so much sadness, so much pain and so much suffering, there have been those for whom the whole of the world wasn’t enough. And, for far too many, it won’t be enough next week either.

Because sooner or later, everyone needs more than the world has to give. More than we have to give.

No wonder then that sometimes work is hard. We are overwhelmed by what we can do, let alone by what we can’t. What we are asked to do each day doesn’t just seem impossible, impossible is what it all too often really is.

So let’s not be surprised when we are not enough, let’s not add to how difficult it is by being that unfair on ourselves. For there is no shame in being asked for more than we’ve got and only being able to give all that we have.

Three blogs which, in my head at least, make up a trilogy on the subject of burnout:

To read ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, click here

To read ‘When the Jokes on You’, click here

To read ‘With great power…’, click here

And one blog on the dangers of perfectionism:

To read ‘Professor Ian Aird’ – A Time to Die?’, click here

A couple of stories about GP life:

To read ‘Mr Benn – the GP’, click here

To read ‘A Bear called Paddington’, click here

Other related posts:

To read ‘On being crazy busy – a ticklish problem’, click here

To read ‘Blaming it on the Boogie’, click here

To read ‘Health – it’ll be the death of us. Is there institutional arrogance in the NHS?’, click here

To read ‘Eleanor Rigby is not at all fine’, click here

To read ‘Hearing the grass grow’, click here

To read ‘The Repair Shop’, click here

To read ‘Gratitude and Regret’, click here

To read ‘An audience for grief’, click here

To read ‘Do you hear the people sing?’, click here

To read ‘General Practice – A Sweet Sorrow’, click here

And finally, a couple of explicitly Christian blogs to finish with:

To read ‘Rest Assured’, click here

To read ‘T.S. Eliot, Jesus and the Paradox of the Christian Life’, click here

To read ‘Because the world is not enough’, a version of the above blog with a Christian twist, click here

16 responses to “ON BEING OVERWHELMED”

  1. More wise words , thank you!


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