I just came from a WordPress site of someone who is facing the diagnosis of terminal/incurable cancer. It was quite an emotional, heart felt expression of how it feels to live with such thoughts inside you. In the comments below of what appeared to be this person’s first post, was a comment from someone who referred to themselves as “Pops”. He indicated that he didn’t know what to do… that he had read the blog and understands… but was lost. Isn’t that true of all of us who care deeply about someone having to face such finality? We’re just lost. What ‘can’ we do? Everything we may think of to do for them… seems so insignificant. I think what most of us actually feel… is helpless! In this case, I not only feel helpless toward the person with cancer… I feel helpless toward Pops. What can one say to help him feel better about his own emotions, his own response to the one he loves?
Inside that same post, the writer mentioned the fact that some of those around you cannot handle the situation and their way of dealing with it is to just disappear. Wow… is that ever a true statement… and it might not be just friends that walk away… it might be family.
So… I’ve been on both sides of this conversation. What’s the solution? I’m not sure. Here’s what I do know. If we could engage in pure honest conversation about our emotions on both sides of the situation… the distance between us just might be a bit less if we were to truly understand one another’s feelings. There are so many that are afraid to express those emotions to another… especially to one who is facing terminal illness. Sometimes it is just so much easier to distance yourself from them. I think that what the real problem may be… is that those who distance themselves are afraid of causing the one suffering… any additional stress or negative emotions. Perhaps they become distant to protect themselves from stress and negative emotions. What at least some of them are failing to see is that those of us facing terminal illness just want to live as much of a normal life as we can… including the interactions of friends and family that we care about. So just being who you are… who you’ve always been before the illness came to be… is what is most important.
Perhaps I could best express how I feel by saying this: “Being human”… is not always easy. Defining humanity includes compassion, kindness, understanding, tolerance, goodness and brotherly love. Are these too difficult for some humans to deal with? Loving someone should always be easy, but standing with them through the brume may prove to be far too difficult for some to bear. Borrowing a couple of lines from “The Invitation” by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, might best describe how I feel about the interactions between friends, family… and the one whom they care about… facing the finality of death from illness.
“It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me
and not shrink back.”
Well… when you find out you have terminal cancer… the fire is lit. If standing in that fire with me is something that you cannot do for whatever reason… then please… distance yourself from me. You must do what is best for your own spirit. I will understand. I will still love you… but the truth is… there will be an emptiness within my life without you in it.
There are no real answers as to what one should do… how one should act toward someone that is special to them, who is face to face with terminal illness. We’re all different. The only thing I can do is to be myself and do whatever my heart and soul tell me to do. That’s the only thing I would ever expect from anyone else toward me. Just be you! Love cannot be diminished by cancer. True love, in whatever form it takes… is forever. I guess, what I am trying to say… to “Pops”… and to anyone finding themselves in this ‘being human is not always easy’ position… the love you feel is most obvious… so what you can do that would help your loved one the very most… is to just be you… and never stop loving.
A most beautiful day to you all…
My most humble appreciation to the one who inspired this post… and to “Pops”. Their most beautiful example of “Being Human” may be experienced at: