When people you love and who are close to you are going through full on moments in life – cancers, sickness and life and death situations – it’s so hard to know what to say.
It’s incredible how we end up internalizing it though. What do “I” say to them. “I” don’t know what to do say, or sometimes it’s easier to just say nothing and wait for them to say something. And I think all of these, in their own way, are fine.
It’s funny because I do go through this, and as humans we often revert back to our own situations when others are going through something.
I really struggle with whether this is a good or bad thing for the actual person going through it but I do know (here we go) from my own experience, that the asking helps. The “how are you”. The “can I do anything” helps.
Because even though it doesn’t feel great at the time or may not help at that point in time and is often a redundant question, to me, it helped later.
When my dad passed away when I was 16 it was a numbing time and I don’t remember taking a lot of what people said or did around me. I just felt like I was going through the motions. The questions and statements, they all seemed sincere, yet to me, hollow at the same time because I just wasn’t taking it in – but that is obviously to be expected.
Now, some of my most prominent memories from my dad passing away are of those who asked these questions. I remember the gentle touches from friends and strangers when I went back to school for the first time. The kind words and messages from friends and family. I remember the faces of those at his funeral who were there to support us and really I feel comfort from those memories.
It’s sometimes impossible to help those who are sick or in drawn out life and death moments. They are in God hands and He has it covered in His master plan – whether good or bad, but it’s the ones who keep on living who need the questions to be asked, despite how awkward it makes us feel.
I remember reading about someone who had a loved one going through cancer treatment and they admitted that those questions were painful at times, and it was more how it was asked that mattered. To ask “how are you TODAY” instead of generally how are you, because every day is “a day at a time”. They aren’t focused on the future, they are focused on the moment, the day at hand.
Of course, how trivial are these feelings of feeling awkward asking someone how they are in the grand scheme of things?! They are nothing in comparison to what those directly involved are going through or the person whose life is on the line.
The biggest thing I’ve realised we can do for someone is just be there when they need, whether they want/need you or not – you just have to ask – and that is free for anyone to do. Ask them these questions whether you feel uncomfortable or not.
Just simply asking “how are you today”, to ANYONE (because lets face it we are all going through something, whether its big or small) and sincerely listening when they tell you, can end up meaning the world to someone else: and that is what really matters.