When I’m feeling sick, scared, or overwhelmed by my health, I don’t want friends or family bullshitting me and telling me that everything is going to be fine. It only makes me feel worse. In fact it makes me want to smack them.
I got a facebook message today from the wife of a young adult cancer patient whose husband is going through possible recurrence. She said all she can do to support him is tell him she loves him and is there for him. I think she is doing the absolute right thing by being simple, honest, and real.
My friend Lori Hope wrote a fantastic and well researched book called Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You To Know. On the list is “Hearing platitudes or what’s good about cancer can trivialize my feelings.” Kudos to that sentiment.
I totally understand the temptation to want to make things better for someone else who is going through the ringer. I experience this anytime someone I love is down and out. Of course we want to fix it. But let’s be real. Shannon, Lisa Friedman, and my mom and dad are not going to take my cancer away. (I’ve hired good doctors to try to do that instead.) What they give me and what I want is simple, honest support. They tell me they love me and understand why I’m afraid.
A bit of pink wine and really good escapist DVDs can make a huge difference in getting me through the hard times too. (Six seasons of The Wire got me through this past February and March – thank you Avon and Stringer Bell). But best of all is surrounding myself with people who can be honest with me in the face of fear.
When you are having a hard time, what do you most want to hear? Are you comforted or agitated by someone telling you that things will be fine? Do you spend more or less time around some people because of how they respond to you when you are having a hard time?