When we are faced with a crisis our first reaction may be to wallow. It is best to let the person that is hurting tell you what they want and below are a few ways to tell. These are just a few examples of how my friends and family showed me kindness when I fought cancer that I will never forget. These apply to how we treat a loved one in any situation when we are close to someone hurting from loss, trial, or illness.
Have you ever been in need and someone calls and says “let me know if you need anything”? I would venture to say that most will respond with a simple thank you, but are not going to tell you what they need. After my diagnosis, my cousin called and did not say to let her know if I needed her to drive me to chemo. I would have said no. I am not good at accepting help. Instead she said, “I am not working right now and want to take you to chemo. What days do you go?” Someone that does not want your help can say no at this point. I was a little unsure how this would be since we rarely talked and knew very little about eachother. These chemo appointments she went to with me ended up to be some of the best moments getting to know my cousin and we got very close. She is the one who asked me to train for my first half marathon after chemo. If you know someone who is hurting, think of something that would help and say, “I want to do (fill in the blank) for you”. It can be very small and that may be just what they need off their plate. Offering to take their kids to school or practice, a meal, a gift card for coffee may be all they need to feel less alone.
Speak Your Mind
This can be an awkward situation; not knowing what to say. We can easily avoid a person for this reason. Again if they need space, back off, but at least try so they know you care. Make the call and if they don’t answer leave a message letting them know you are thinking of them and want to help out. If their situation is something you’ve been through, try to remember what gave you comfort during this time. One thing that sticks out to me is when our friend Seth, who is a cancer survivor came to see me after my surgery and I happened to be by myself in the hospital room. I think Keith finally ran home to take a shower. Seth sat down by the bed and looked me straight in the eyes and said, “are you scared?” I said “yes”. He then asked what I was the most scared about. I answered “chemo”. He said, “okay now you said it out loud and it is just a word and I can tell you anything you want to know about it.” I often think about that. Sometimes we are paralyzed by fear and just need to say it out loud and tackle it. Maybe you have lost a parent and can comfort another that is suffering this pain. Personally I don’t think it helps the person in crisis to hear a story of your past experience being worse, just that you’ve been through it and survived. If you tell them that you had it much worse, it may make them feel they shouldn’t have permission to feel sad. Better yet, we all feel comfort knowing someone has been through it, survived, and will be there to walk by our side.
What does being nurtured mean to you? To me it is my husband noticing I’m cold and covering me with a blanket, a kiss on the forehead; or just taking care of my need without asking. When someone is struggling, nurturing is healing. We need to respect barriers but can nurture without intruding. When I got home from chemo one October afternoon, there was a couple of hay bales, pumpkins, and a scarecrow by my side door and driveway. I think I know which friend did it but she never owned up to it. I was feeling so sick and weak that day and it completely lifted my spirits. I love Fall decor and someone had added some cheer to my home when I couldn’t. Another memory… I have always changed all our linens once a week and our girls and Keith always knew (still do it) that Tuesdays we all went to bed to a clean set of sheets. I love to slide in to a bed of fresh smelling, crisp, clean sheets. Not sure how I chose Tuesdays, but I always did “linen day” each Tuesday. Tuesday’s also happen to be my chemo day. Without fail or me asking, Keith washed our sheets and put them on our bed for me each Tuesday. This is another example of nurturing, and is truly healing for the soul.
Love Is All You Need
We all need to feel loved unconditionally. When we go through a struggle, we may feel less loveable, less attractive, less fun. When you are mourning a loss, fighting an illness, or any trial, we don’t feel like ourself. This can lead to insecurity and depression. One of my friends that took me to chemo picked me up and when we got out at the cancer center, she pulled out a rolling suitcase. I just smiled, imagining what Candice may have up her sleeve. We went in, I got my line flushed and connected, chose my recliner and went and told Candice she could come on back along with her small piece of luggage. Once we got settled, she got out some fashion magazines and we looked through page by page critiquing the outfits and makeup. Next she pulled her bag of nail polish out and proceeded to paint my toes and nails. Next in her bag of tricks was her video player and ‘Sex in the City’ videos, along wth an array of movie snacks. I was not feeling well at this point but I was having fun and felt like my girly girl self. She did not treat me any different than she did on any other day she and I hung out. Oh, almost forgot, she even packed some Chardonnay sippie cups! 🙈 Sometimes a moment of feeling like your old self can be healing and knowing that your friend or family loves you through this struggle. This same friend came to visit me at the hospital after surgery and I would wake up and she would be sitting quietly on the floor reading and I knew I did not need to wake up and talk. Sometimes we need to know we can sit quietly and no need to talk. Love eachother through thick and thin and be sensitive to their needs.
These are just a few memories and ways that help me to be sensitive to what may brighten someone’s day that needs love along the way.
1 Corinthians 13:7 – Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Speaking of love..here’s a pic of Keith and I at a beautiful wedding venue of our friends at Kendall Plantation in Boerne, Texas.
I love to run and run to stay healthy. After cancer, I started running more and run a half marathon every year. My philosophy is “It is me vs. me.” I try to avoid getting caught up on how fast my time is, but do wish I was faster. Most importantly, just thankful I am healthy.