This is a letter to the friends and partners of social workers.
Social workers are people who help mend the lives and emotions of others who need support. Social workers are usually advocates, empaths and fighters for social justice. They are the people who rather than complain about the hurt and injustices in the world, do something about it. They believe in supporting others and using their voices for those who have been silenced. Social workers have big hearts, and it is not uncommon to see them wear their emotions on their sleeves.
But, if you are a friend or partner of a social worker, you already know all of this.
What you may not know though, is that the text you sent them at 8:08 a.m. this morning hasn’t been responded to at 3:00 p.m. because they have been supporting their clients since they walked through their office door. This support is offered through phone calls, e-mails, in-person meetings and sometimes texting. Sometimes, even though a text is quick to send, they may have already sent dozens, just not on their personal phone. So, if you really need them – call.
What you may not know, is why they sometimes seem distant or preoccupied. It may be that they have not had the time to process something they have heard or seen as a part of their every day job. While social workers see the best in peoples lives, they also see and hear about the worst parts as well. Social workers witness abuse, trauma and tragedy of people all ages, sometimes multiple times per day. It may be hard for them to put into words what their day has been like. Their mind may still be with a client even though they have left their office physically -no matter how good their boundaries may be. So, ask them how their day was and be there to listen if they need an ear to support them, after they spent their day supporting others.
What you may not know, is that sometimes, they really don’t want to have to make a decision about what to have for dinner because they have made decisions all day. Most of the decisions they make impact the lives of others, which is a heavy responsibility. So, pull out a cookbook. Anything you make, will be great.
What you may not know, is that they are usually multi-tasking several to-do lists for several clients. So sometimes, their memory may not be as sharp. Forgive them if they forget to do something you may have asked them to do.
What you may not know, is that sometimes quiet is all they want after the end of a long work day. Most social workers spend their whole day talking to people – so quiet can be a therapeutic way to recharge before heading back to work the next day. So, pour them a glass of wine and let them recharge the way they need to.
Social workers are a special part of our community and lives- lets take care of them, like they take care of us.