Our Toes Aren’t Always in the Sand

A friend recently reached out to me looking for advice for herself and for her friend who was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. I thought I would share some of my response.

No forgiveness needed. This is a tough one and I’m really sorry for everyone dealing with this. There are a number of things that I did that helped me both process what I was going though, and help with some of the physical and emotional side effects. These may or may not work for someone else but hopefully she can take at least one thing away from my experiences.

One thing that helped me dramatically was to write about it. And it doesn’t need to be anything formal and can be anything from a blog to an email to yourself, or just a running journal of thoughts and feelings. This helped me identify some of the feelings that I was having and was good therapy.

Also, music was key for me. While I can’t play a single lick of anything on any instrument, I am a music junkie. So just being able to get lost in my music was another way to escape and relax my mind. In many cases the music and the writing went hand in hand.

I don’t know what her level of energy is or will be but of course activity was really important for me as well. If she is up for it and can get out to walk, it may help. It paid huge dividends for me.

Her support team is in a tough spot because you all want to do the right thing by her but sometimes you don’t know what that is. Hell, she may not even know what she wants or what she needs. And if she does articulate those needs, they may and probably will change. Couple all of that with your own sadness and it can be a tough thing to manage. So one of the best pieces of advice that I can give you is to ask her what you can do or be for her. Give her control and ask her to direct you guys. You are her team. She will follow your lead. If you walk timidly around her and her situation, she will do the same. If you open the door to attack it, and talk about her feelings and fears openly, she will follow that lead as well.

She may want to walk. She may want to talk. She may want to write or listen to music. She may want to look through pictures and relive some of those memories. Or she may want to cry. Ask her what she wants to do right now in this moment. And also, when the time is right, ask her what you all can do in her name and in her honor. But for now, be alive with her and embrace every exchange.

Happy to continue this conversation with you and whoever.

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