Sunday, September 27, 2009

I'd rather be scrutable

I went to visit a dear friend in hospital today who has cancer and probably not that much time left. It was one of her not-so-good days, when she seemed to barely notice all the people who'd gone to see her. So I put the flowers in the basin, said hi, and proceeded to ignore her for a good ten minutes.

I'm not very good during sad times like these. It's not that I don't feel anything, because I surely do. But I do have an awfully difficult time with saying and doing the right things. I want to tell her this is so unfair, what's happening to her. But I don't, because maybe she'd rather be cheered up. But it's hard to think of anything cheerful to say, and maybe it'd be inappropriate anyway.

Eventually I did talk to her about some inane stuff, and it did seem to amuse her at least for a moment. But I fear the awkwardness behind my chatter was clanging loudly in the background that whole time.

At times like this it would be really handy to have a religion.

11 comments:

Antoinette said...

But think about the countless other times it isn't so handy to have that religion! LOL I used to have a real avoidance of funerals/ memorials/ wakes/ etc. because I never knew what to say to the most directly affected. Took me a long time to understand that I didn't have to say a word. It might sound cliche but this is an instance in which "being fully present" is entirely appropriate.

I bet it applies when being with those ailing and dying, too. If we go in assuming that the person wants to be cheered up but really the person is feeling awful and wants to rant to anyone who will listen, we aren't helping anyone. By being there and being present we allow ourselves to be responsive to what this person needs. Just some thoughts... :)

Led said...

pray to god,she'll be blessed

Make Tea Not War said...

What your friend is going through sounds incredibly sad for everyone.

I never know what to say at sad times either. It's not like there's anything anyone can say that will change anything. I just try and remember that it's not about me and whatever my needs are but about the other person and hope that the fact of my presence and purity of my intentions lets the people involved know I care even if my words are clumsy or not quite right.

Even as an agnostic I don't think it does any harm to pray in the sense of keeping the person in your thoughts in a loving way. It doesn't help them necessarily but I find it helps me a bit as it feels like I'm giving the proper weight to whatever the tragedy is rather than just going about my business as if nothing has happened.

Anyway, I have no answers, just these thoughts, and the hope that your friends remaining time is as painfree and meaningful as she, and those who love her, would wish.

Violet said...

Thanks for your thoughts. I do hope that my presence was enough because really, that was all I could offer.

Angela said...

Yes hard times.

Just being there is sometimes best, I agree.

donnasoowho said...

Fully know where you're coming from - in such similar sorts of times I usually manage to say something inappropriate.

Determinist said...

Tell her how you feel about your best memories together.

Tell her that you are sad about her situation, but are glad that you met her and love the memories that she's given you.

A hug never hurts.

Violet said...

Determinist, this is exactly the kind of thing I have difficulty saying i.e. anything meaningful and from the heart.

Badaunt said...

I'm pretty sure I know who you mean. The next time you see her, please tell her that BadAunt in Japan says hello and sends her love. I've been thinking of her a lot recently.

Violet said...

I will, badaunt.

Badaunt said...

Thank you.