“After she reads the online tributes to a girl who’s died of cancer, Hazel observes that the girl ‘seemed to be mostly a professional sick person, like me, which made me worry that when I died they’d have nothing to say about me except that I fought heroically, as if the only thing I’d ever done was Have Cancer.’”
As I read this, a giant “YES!!!” went through my head.
So often when I run into someone or get a message from them, people say to me, “I was in an elevator with someone loaded with nasty perfume this morning, and I thought of you.” Or they will send me an article about someone who has died from complications of Lyme Disease. Or they will tell me that being knocked down and unable to function for ten days while ill with the flu gave them a bit of perspective on my life.
While I am grateful that people have not forgotten me completely and that they have internalized the reality of some of the difficulties of my life, part of me always cringes when people say or send these things to me. I am not my disease. I am a person who happens to have that disease. I still have far more complexity to me than the battles I fight with these health issues. I have hobbies. I have kids. I read books. I watch movies. I feel. I hurt. I live. I love.
So what do I want to have people say to me? I’d prefer to hear, “I saw a great photography exhibit last week that really reminded me of you.” I’d be happy to hear, “I love your outfit.” I even like hearing, “It’s so great to see you today.” I want to hear the same things that people would say to any of their healthier friends.
Please remember and contact your friends facing challenges at times other than when you are reminded of their illness or life difficulties!
© 2014 Green Heart Guidance