Monday, June 13, 2011

And Again...

Last fall I wrote a post, Live Through This (you can click on it for a refresher) and did a follow up as well Live Through This Part II and after reading the Sunday Times (at least part of it...) I thought it might be a helpful revisit for some. Regardless, there was an article "What To Say To Someone Who's Sick" in the Fashion and Style section.


That is, that it was in the Fashion and Style section.

But it reiterates the reality of what it's like to be on the receiving end in grim situations, and offers helpful perspective on what words and actions prove to be the most genuine and helpful. Worth reading, as it could be/will be useful to all of us, now or sometime later in life. Since Alan passed away I have met others enduring similar challenges, and I too, still struggle with what to say and how to say it. Difficult situations will always be awkward, sad and challenging - but I feel a lot better when I acknowledge the current reality of the situation and acknowledge the reality of the circumstances. You don't have to be a downer, nor doom and gloom prophet, but if you can just be there with them and follow their lead on whatever seems to brighten their moment, you'll do just fine. Always remember that however hard it is for you, it's a hundred times more difficult for them. Remember that before this person was ill and perhaps throughout it, they had and still have other interests, a job, passions, aspirations. So conversation along those lines - whatever inspirations once filled their hours - that diverts from the seriousness of one's situation is welcome.
Yes, even gossip, as the article's author shared.
Good stuff.

It brings them back.
Illuminates that they're very much alive.

I will never forget someone very very very dear to me, while fighting cancer, saying (with humor that I'll always admire) "People look at me like I'm a dead man!".
And I got it.
Because when we hear such grave diagnosis, we can't help but imagine the worst outcome and we fast forward unnecessarily to the end we fear most.
Doesn't help the afflicted.
So do your best, while avoiding lies and phoney platitudes, to remain in the present and to focus on where one is in the moment. There are happy outcomes, miraculous recoveries, returns to good health. It is a delicate balance, I know, but yesterday's article and others' experiences can act as helpful guides to get you through very difficult times.

Lastly, the author's section on "What Can I Do to Help", couldn't be more true. So take some cues and pass the info on. If you really want to help,and can follow through with it, start a blog or online calendar with family and friends and sign them up to do everything we usually take for granted. And insist that they do just those tasks; ie., don't linger for coffee or tea or a meal with whomever you're helping as they'll end up feeling pressured to be company and host. And they'll end up with dishes and more fatigue. And unnecessary feelings of guilt or embarrassment or vulnerability.

A tall order, yes.
But you'll be appreciated for your support, attentiveness and strength.
And most importantly, love.

And everyone will be emotionally stronger because of it.

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