Empathy ~ we all wince when another person bangs their shin as we can really imagine the pain, we’ve felt it before. True empathy is exactly that, putting yourself in another’s place and imagining what they are feeling, what their perspective is.
Some of us come by this naturally, but even then it’s a skill to know how to act, how to respond to another persons reality.
I believe that it is human nature to want to help those in distress. Our first reaction is always ‘what can I do to help?’.
The hard part really is knowing what to do, sometimes even what to say when another person is going through something devastating.
My husband was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, complicated by a tumor that is almost wholly blocking the colon. This is dangerous as if a full blockage occurs they would have to do emergency surgery which could cause sepsis and kill him. Even without this complication they started with an 11% chance of survival.
Accepting this reality has been a challenge, staying positive even more so. We are in a whirlwind of information, medical choices to be made, managing the emotional trauma of not only our kids & family but friends as well and just trying to find our way to some semblance of ‘normal’.
At this late stage he doesn’t have the option of wholistic remedies, we have to go the aggressive medical route of chemo and radiation.
My family doctor once told me that wholistic options are very good for prevention and healing, but the reality is we need super drugs to kill super bugs. An unfortunate truth.
My husbands reality is now getting through not just each day, but each hour of the day. He was lucky that the 5 months of chemo was manageable in that he had a 3 week cycle of treatment and so 1 week out of 3 was really horrible. Time to recoup made it manageable.
The tumor did not respond as well as hoped and now he has moved on to radiation treatment, this is much worse.
Five days a week still taking the chemo drug and adding radiation has caused his body to rebel. Every day is the worst flu you have ever had, and after it has settled down for the day he has to go back and do it again. Five weeks. After two it seems like an eternity.
Watching helplessly I learn the true definition of empathy and of compassion. I truly cannot wholly imagine being in his place, the sickness yes, we’ve all had that awful flu feeling or the worst hangover where you just want it to end ~ but we know it will in a day or two.
This is another thing entirely. This is facing your mortality. This is a true test of your spirit.
I have a renewed respect for my husbands fortitude, he tries to keep a positive outlook despite the battle he is facing. It’s a long and difficult path to an unsure cure, but there is always hope ~ and faith.
What to say, what to do ~ I am asked constantly by family and friends, there is really nothing to say, nothing to do.
The best gift for someone going through this type of challenge is for us to listen and empathize as well as we can.
To relay stories of ourselves or others that have been there and come out the other side.
To visit or call and talk about anything else to make the clock travel forward faster so they can reach the next stage.
To talk about life and give them something to keep fighting for. ~ CJGrant ?