Life requires a lot of flexibility from us, and we get training in it each day, yet when we receive horrible news about the status of our health we often cope in surprising ways. Unexpected personal crisis that unfolds its net over us makes us feel stuck in the moment. Our life becomes overwhelming all of the sudden. Our previously important tasks and worries become trivial and distant.
Each one of us would react differently in such situations, and accepting the diagnosis as part of our reality may take different lengths of time. We have a choice if to tell others, which person to share with, whom to ask for moral support, what information to share with whom. The best is to always rely on our internal filter and, sometimes, to let in some people whom we never thought of as our possible support. Being suddenly weakened we may drop off our limiting judgements and let ourselves be surprised by those people, too.
Our life becomes a cumbersome juggle between hope, despair, optimism and fear.
Those who had been there confirm that a support group established to connect with people who can relate to your situation, has an enormous value. Checking out, verifying if we feel good enough with the people who might be going through a similar situation, might be a good idea. If we don’t feel comfortable there, we may still find another group in the vicinity, or create one.
Being focused on possibilities, we let the illness sit in the background. It may seem too hard to focus on your quality of life, no matter how long you are still going to live (a week or many more years), yet this path seems to be most beneficial for those who have tried both.
It is beneficial to take a moment and create a list of all what we may feel grateful for. All that you can remember on the spot: There may be friends who offer words of support and help us out with small tasks that are overwhelming for us at the moment. It might be the fact that our diagnoses was done on time, or that we have the best and trustful doctor, or the love and attentions of our family,…This list may actually elevate your mood. It is a great reminder of what good is there around us. Being aware of it is our first step towards appreciating those little things that are positive and still functioning for us. We need them as our personal support.
The heavy thoughts and fears of our life being taken over and ruined health, family life and all we care about can be replaced bit by bit by paying attention to what we take in, what we owe to others, where we work, how we see things and how we love. I believe that many more people can change their stories by switching from powerless victims to fighters, by choosing what they eat and what treatment they agree to, what people they let into their life and above all keeping their changed perception of the world and what is essentially important for their life. I know of one recent fighter that suffered alone, and I know of quite a few who made it through the worst, rising like phoenix from its destroyed body. Being accompanied makes the struggle definitely more bearable. Even if the diagnoses is negative today, there is hope for a positive outcome. Our body and mind may just need some more help and special attention for a while.
Those who are on the other side of the picture - friends, family, colleagues - would be very welcome to do what ever they consider useful at the time and place. Your help may come in small chunks, by offering your attentive ear to the person who is fighting for life. Be the one who never gives up hope and stays positive. Your hope is a special gift for the person who is struggling with such fearful thoughts and questions. Be the light for them and let them tell you about their struggle. Let them be as they are at that exact moment.
Remind them that you need them around, and that what ever roles he/she plays in your life and life of the others, the world wants them to return. Be a reminder for them that their roles of child, friend, mother, colleague are still in place.
Be discrete and judge well what information you pass on to others about this person. You may want to ask him or her what can be shared outside the room and with whom.
Ask if you can help with a specific thing on a specific day or moment. If you can really do it, of course. Do not offer what you cannot follow up with, and do not put pressure on yourself to find out what you could do. Simply being there to listen is also help for a person in such situation.
Don’t shy away when knowing about their diagnosis. Mention it. Mention that you feel sorry for what is happening to him/her. Wish them well. You may feel like you should be discrete and ignore it, but your words would be much appreciated, and would contribute to their feeling of being accepted and acknowledged. Instead of passing, why don’t you decide to inspire the one who needs it? Ask to make a choice and be the writer of their own story. Don’t let them limit themselves with what they think they were supposed to be. They do not need anyone’s approval to be and feel as they do, but what they need is a supportive interlocutor who is aware of their value and can remind them of it when the times are really though.
Are you going through a similar situation as a fighter or as a support person? Leave us a comment on what helps you most while struggling through the life or death situation!