January 7, 2012

Dying and the nature of friendship.

Having cancer can significantly change your friendships. You lose some and others surprise you by becoming closer. This has certainly been my experience. And when I became terminal, it changed even more. I'm finding that this is quite common. I thought it would useful to share some examples with you to help you understand what life can be like for those of us on the downslide.

You can lose friends for lots of reasons. One way is pretty obvious. If your illness prevents you from working, you are going to suddenly find yourself disconnected from dozens of people who have been your "friends" for years. Unless you have established a couple of strong friendships outside of work, you just won't see them anymore. I've left behind lots of work friends as I've moved around jobs and really don't see any of them anymore. Once in a while I will get a call or an email, which I really appreciate, but none of them are part of my support system now.

But then there are your other friends, the ones who have been with you for years before you were ill. Many of our friends are couples, originally met through our kids when they were very young. Many of these friends have stayed with us and have pitched in to varying degrees to help out. We know that they will be with us all the way through this and, hopefully, will also be there for Dianne as she makes a new life. She worries about this, but I know they will be there for her. Sometimes, though, we can be lax in returning calls from our friends because we are going through a tough time. After particularly bad news, we often find ourselves "hunkering down" at home and not really up to talking to anyone. So we let the phone ring and it might even be a couple of weeks before we return a call. I hate when this happens but, at the time, we were pretty inwardly focused. I know this happens to lots of people. Most of our friends understand and give us the space when we need it but others may feel snubbed. This can sometimes cause a distancing which can become permanent if we don't do something about it.

But this isn't always the case. Many people can't handle it when their friends get an illness. We lost many friends when I first got cancer and I know others who have also. People don't know what to say so they just avoid it by avoiding you, by staying away. It makes you wonder just how close the friendship was in the first place. And it's worse when you are terminal because that is one huge elephant in the room. Good friends know that they don't need to talk about it all the time, but they also know that it must be very difficult for us and they try to help. If it's not an open ear, it could be a meal or an offer to help out at times. But there are some who can't handle negativity in their lives and, as a dying friend, you poentially bring a lot of that with you. It's a matter of perspective though because it can bring out a lot of positive things in people who are willing to offer a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand. In fact, sometimes it can turn a casual acquaintence into a close friend. It has certainly happened to us. While we have had friends who have distanced themselves from us, we have others who have become closer. One couple who we hardly ever saw before (mostly just the women getting together once in awhile for coffee) has become exceptionally close. They really understand our situation and always ask how we are and go out of their way to ensure I'm comfortable. Knowing how much I love the water and the outdoors and how I miss my old kayaking and campling trips, they made sure to have us up to their cottage many times this past summer. They care and we love them for it.

There are other reasons for friendships to change. One person I talked to felt that she was pushing people away herself. She knows she is doing it, and doesn't want to, but can't seem to stop it. Maybe subconsciously she wants to be left alone or has resigned herself to a loss that may seem inevitable for her. On the other hand, people may have already had too much loss and sadness in their lives and can't handle any more. I respect this.

Regardless of the reasons, it hurts to lose friends. But you also meet some really nice people along the way and sometimes new friendships develop and flourish. And that is what's really important in all of this - we need to have friends around. We need people around us to keep reminding us that life is real and good and, no matter how long we have, that there is still a lot of living that can be done, if perhaps more in terms of quality than quantity. I want people who love me close on this journey and, just as importantly, I want them close to my family after I'm gone.

Family situations can be even more complex and subject to change. My son left home when I was first diagnosed nine years ago and we have struggled to have a relationship ever since. I love him and I know he loves me, but I don't feel like he's really there for me. He's over 2,000 miles away and has missed so much. But maybe he can't help it any way (like I say, it's complicated) but it still hurts. On the other hand, I have developed a closer relationship with my older brother who wants to be there to support me. And my daughter has moved in with us, along with her fiancé, to help us out, and I know both of them will be around to support Dianne after.

Love is always good and can help to heal the soul if not the body. So thanks to all of you, friends and family, for being here for me now. I hope that I can give you something in return, including the knowledge that you are needed and loved.

Always.

11 comments:

Heather Blackwell said...

I see that you didn't take my comment well. That's OK. I get it.

Anyway, I'd like to recommend that you listen to Wayne Dyer's "Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life". It's based on his meditations on the Tao Te Ching written by Lau Tzu 2,500 years ago.

You might find it helpful during the final phase of your life. It's about letting go of ego and aligning with spirit. I personally have found the Tao Te Ching helpful during my earth walk, and am grateful to hear one person's interpretation.

I'm going through hard times right now and giving the audio book more attention. Though times around me are challenging, I'm becoming more centered in spirit. I find that I have more inner peace.

I hope that you find that long before the end.

Heather Blackwell said...

Doug, I meant to add this to my post yesterday. Basically, the premise is "As we come from spirit so we return to spirit".

There are many translations available but the following is one translated by Stephen Mitchell.

Chapter 9

"Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity."

Embrace what you have garnered in your life so far. Appreciate the things you have achieved, though others may see them as small. If they have been big to you, then they are big achievements. Period.
Take time to remember how you felt when you first rode your bike by yourself. Feel that pride, that joy.

One day you will return to source, as we all shall, regardless of how we name source - God, Creator, etc. We do return.

Step back and enjoy who you are and who you have been.

May your return to the beginning be a good one.

Anonymous said...

Dear Heather Blackwell,

In eastern religions, what they often fail to mention is that it takes billions of lifetimes to become a Buddha, or to become like Lau Tzu.

We all do the best we can. It's insanity to expect perfection from yourself or from others.

I recommend that you be compassionate with yourself and as an outcome I guarantee that you will become less judgmental of others

cheers

Heather Blackwell said...

Dear Anonymous

Too much responsibility to be Buddah, but nice to learn that it takes many lifetimes to become one. I didn't know that, so you have taught me something today. Thank you.

And thank you for your great counsel on what I need to do for myself. Sincerely, it's a great recommendation based on your judgement. I respect it and will act on that recommendation.

As I flirt with the Tao Te Ching, I offer you the blessings of The 10,000 Things!

Cheers

chenlina said...

chenlina20150831
oakley sunglasses
ugg boots
louis vuitton
michael kors
ugg australia
hollister clothing store
pandora jewelry
christian louboutin outlet
adidas original trainers
gucci shoes
abercrombie
nike trainers
concords 11
uggs on sale
uggs outlet
coach factory outlet
coach outlet online
vans sneakers
ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton outlet
air max 90
michael kors
red timberland boots
tory burch outlet online
coach outlet
ray ban glasses
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
air max 90
coach factory outlet
retro jordans
michael kors
hollister
barbour coats
cheap air max
louis vuitton outlet
toms shoes
louis vuitton
coach outlet online
louis vuitton handbags

mao qiuyun said...

stuart weitzman boots, http://www.stuartweitzmanoutlet.us/
ray ban sunglasses, http://www.raybansunglassesonline.in.net/
black friday deals, http://www.barbourjacketsuk.co.uk/
louis vuitton handbags, http://www.louisvuittonhandbags.org.uk/
nike trainers, http://www.niketrainers.me.uk/
oakley outlet, http://www.oakleyoutlet.in.net/
lululemon outlet, http://www.lululemonoutletstore.in.net/
roshe run, http://www.rosherunshoessale.com/
soccer jerseys, http://www.soccerjerseys.us.com/
cheap mlb jerseys, http://www.cheapmlbjerseys.net/
replica handbags, http://www.replicahandbag.us.com/
north face jackets, http://www.thenorthfaces.in.net/
louis vuitton outlet, http://www.louisvuittonoutletstore.name/
hermes birkin, http://www.hermesbirkin.org/
kobe bryant shoes, http://www.kobebryantshoes.in.net/
replica watches, http://www.replicawatchesforsale.us.com/
hollister uk, http://www.hollistershirts.co.uk/
ray ban, http://www.occhiali-rayban.it/
prada handbags, http://www.pradahandbagsoutlet.co.uk/
the north face clearance, http://www.thenorthfaceclearances.us.com/
cheap nba jerseys, http://www.nbajerseys.net/
ray ban sunglasses, http://www.ray-bansunglasses.eu.com/
tory burch outlet, http://www.toryburch.in.net/
beats headphones, http://www.beats-headphones.in.net/
air max 2014, http://www.airmax2014.net/
cheap nfl jerseys, http://www.cheapnfljerseys.org/
montblanc pens, http://www.montblanc-pens.com.co/
michael kors outlet store, http://www.michaelkorsoutlet-store.us.com/
1010maoqiuyun

mmjiaxin said...

Cheap Jordans For Sale
cheap retro jordans
michael kors outlet
kobe shoes for sale online
fitflops clearance
http://www.tiffanyandcooutletonline.us.com
mlb jerseys authentic
mlb jerseys authentic
tiffany and co jewellery
http://www.kobebasketballshoes.us.com
chrome hearts online
air jordan
http://www.rayban-sunglasses.uk
oakley sunglasses
cheap authentic jordans
christian louboutin outlet
michael kors handbags
cheap tiffanys
jordan retro
tiffany and co outlet
gg

Qinan Chen said...

pandora charms
ray ban outlet
ray bans
oakley sunglasses
pandora outlet
uggs outlet
the north face
michael kors outlet clearance
ferragamo shoes
adidas gazelle
michael kors outlet online
cheap jordans
louis vuitton borse
pandora outlet
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors watches
oakley sunglasses
ralph lauren outlet online
louis vuitton outlet online
asics shoes
ugg boots outlet
longchamp handbag
nike air max
abercrombie and fitch
red bottom shoes
uggs outlet
cheap jordans
air max 90
pandora jewelry
canada goose outlet online
coach factory outlet
louis vuitton bags
michael kors outlet
hollister co
coach outlet
zhenwei20160726

Zheng junxai5 said...

zhengjx20160817
polp ralph lauren
ugg boots
christian louboutin pas cher
adidas superstar shoes
polo ralph lauren outlet
louis vuitton purses
christian louboutin sale
burberry outlet online
louis vuitton
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren outlet
true religion jeans cheap
louis vuitton bags
burberry outlet online
coach factory outlet
ralph lauren
coach outlet
oakley sunglasses
coach factory outlet online
longchamp sac
michael kors outlet clearance
coach factory outlet online
ray ban outlet
jordan 3 powder blue
replica rolex watches
cheap jordan shoes
nike outlet
cheap ray ban sunglasses
ugg boots
michael kors handbags
michael kors canada outlet
ray ban sunglasses uk
instyler max
ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet stores
gucci bags
true religion uk
ghd flat iron
nba jerseys
louboutin shoes

Fangyaya said...

roshe run
nike roshe run flyknit
canada goose
air jordans
michael kors outlet
toms outlet
coach canada
michael kors outlet online
louis vuitton paris
ray ban wayfarer
ralph lauren outlet
polo ralph lauren
kobe 9
louis vuitton outlet
ugg sale
hollister shirts
kate spade handbags
canada goose outlet
dallas mavericks jerseys
nike factory outlet
true religion sale
ugg outlet
louis vuitton
tiffany outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
true religion jeans sale
true religion outlet
adidas yeezy
ugg boots paris
chenyingying2016830

xumeiqing said...

20160936meiqing
ugg outlet
ugg outlet
fitflops
kate spade handbags
coach outlet
michael kors outlet online
ysl outlet online
ferragamo shoes
coach outlet
polo ralph lauren