Four Ways People Can Show They Care When We Need it Most
We combat illness every day with as much grace and dignity as possible.
Our broken souls fight what’s naked to the eye. We’re warriors wrestling with invisible battles. Our adversities strengthen us after winning arduous rounds of sparring with despair and uncertainty.
We dream of living somewhere over the rainbow, to walk in Dorothy’s shoes where black and white turns into color, and the world looks full of promise.
We long for a normal life. These thoughts fill my heart.
Breaking yourself open to tell your truth isn’t easy. You wonder if honesty is a sign of weakness. It’s not. I believe surrendering to adversity and sharing it with others shows great strength and courage.
As the often quoted (by me) Elizabeth Lesser eloquently wrote in her book “Broken Open”:
“Adversity is a natural part of being human. It is the height of arrogance to prescribe a moral code or health regime or spiritual practice as an amulet to keep things from falling apart. Things do fall apart. It is in their nature to do so. When we try to protect ourselves from the inevitability of change, we are not listening to the soul. We are listening to our fear of life and death, our lack of faith, our smaller ego’s will to prevail.
To listen to your soul is to stop fighting with life–to stop fighting when things fall apart; when they don’t go our way, when we get sick, when we are betrayed or mistreated or misunderstood.
To listen to the soul is to slow down, to feel deeply, to see ourselves clearly, to surrender to discomfort and uncertainty and to wait.” ~Elizabeth Lesser
Your spirit splinters into tiny pieces.
When that happens to me I have time to think. About aging and MS and what that will mean for me. About the future of healthcare in our country. About finances. About Medicare covering my revolving door of doctors. About whether I’ll ever be able to travel again and enjoy life as I once knew it.
And sometimes I wonder if the people I care about will go the distance with me through the worst, and best, of times.
When you lose pieces of yourself to illness these thoughts cross your mind.
We don’t want to be sick. We don’t want to complain. We don’t want to be different. We just are.
It’s difficult to explain to people how we feel. They need to walk in our shoes a bit. Ask them to try.
We need to use our voices to let others know how we feel. We need to let them know how to help us feel better.
Here are four suggestions of what to tell people about what we need when we’re having a bad day, week, month or year! Copy and paste this and attach it in an email. Print it out, write a card and attach this to it. Sit down with loved ones and show them this list. Add your own suggestions as well:
- Reach out – A text or private message is nice but it’s not the same as a phone call or old-fashioned snail mail card. Being chronically sick can be lonely. Feeling forgotten can be devastating. If someone’s not feeling up for a phone call send a card to show you care. A friend of mine living in another state felt sad to miss the changing seasons. In the fall I gathered a bunch of beautifully colored leaves and mailed them to her with a card. It made her day.
- Pay a visit – If someone is up to it giving the gift of time (in person, Skype or FaceTime) shows someone they matter. Schedule a convenient time and ask if you can bring anything. Be a compassionate listener. Let them know you care. A visit to someone in need can be just what the doctor ordered.
- Offer to help – Ask if you can cook a meal or two, do their laundry, run some errands, drive them to the doctor. A helping hand can take a big weight off someone’s shoulders.
- Be consistent – Make a point of staying in touch. Follow up. Ask how they’re doing. Stay in their life. Be a friend. Everyone is busy, particularly at holiday time. But the world would be a nicer place if today, right now, this second, you reached out to someone in need. Be that someone who makes the world a brighter place.
NOTE: This post is based on my experience of living with relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis.
I don’t have the corner on illness. Not even close.
I don’t have all the answers. So I write what I know. I hope you let me know what you know.
Thank you for listening.