Friday, April 28, 2006

a book and other stuff

A book was recently shared with me. The name of it is The Etiquette of Illness (or something like that). It's to help people know what to say when they are talking to someone with an illness, whether life-threatening or chronic.

In this book it addresses that thing I have been puzzled by: my need to soothe others.

Finally I read that others deal with this, and though people vary in the way they handle things, it seems that the reason the person with the diagnosis feels this need is when people express their concerns in a way something like this:

"Oh my God, that's terrible" "Oh, I am so upset that you are having to deal with this" "Oh no" "How horrible" "you must be so upset'

it's the person's upset that causes the need in me to comfort them. They are just honestly concerned, and mean nothing but good, and have nothing but love, and I do understand that. Trouble is, I don't have much energy to comfort others, since I have to spend it on comforting myself.

The more calming way for someone to talk about their upset (and not upset me) is to say something like this:

"I'm sorry you have to deal with this" (leave out the oh my gods and oh nos)
"Let me buy you a cup of coffee"
"I'm here to talk if you need me"
"I'm willing to help"
"I can do (insert helpful thing you may want to do... ) (even the simplest thing is helpful)


just do something
the simplest act is most gratefully appreciated, it does not have to be anything big, in fact, the bigger things are sometimes harder to accept

The best way I can describe it is to be calm and loving and just say you are there.

Also, if you do spend time with the diagnosed person, it's ok to talk about it, and it's ok to acknowledge that there may be limitations or that the person may not be feeling 100%. If you have the expectation that we have to all pretend everthing is still all A-ok, then that person has to pretend with some people that everything is ok when it's really not.. Kinda hard sometimes. It's ok that I use a crutch, it's ok that I use a cane, and it's ok if you look at me, and it's ok if you talk about it, and it's best if you recognize that I need to, and not pretend I can walk along as fast as always, or walk across large parking lots, or climb stairs, or stand in lines...

I really can't, and to try, in order not to upset you, sometimes I try to do it all and it is just too difficult.

(by the way, I am not talking to anyone in particular, just a lot of small things that have happened over the last several months)

It's a learning experience for all of us, and I certainly hold no bad feelings for anyone!! We're learing together, I guess.s

Ok, I have bad feelings for the stupid lady today at the library who would NOT give an inch in the aisle as we both searched for DVDs to take home. I am limited in my ability to get into the aisle, reach the top, etc...and she just simple would not move, and was one of those annoying able-bodied people who refuse to ackowledge the existence of an person on a mobility scooter, (you know, a defective person) It's so amazing how many hard-hearted people there are. By the way, I didn't back up or give in to her, I maintained my stay in the aisle and proceeded to look for my movies, and then moved on appropriately. I did struggle with doing so, though, and felt ashamed and wanted to give in to her.

As I said, a learning experience.


At 5:38 PM, Anonymous karen said...

i am going to read this several times so it sinks in, but i wanted to mention that you forgot to include "come give me a foot rub and make me a banana split" on your small requests list, which is fine, because i am claiming that request, not that you can't have more than one of each.

lynne, i do know this is hard enough for you without you having to worry about how everyone else feels.

i'll be really curious to know how your "experiment" works.

love, karen

At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Marsha said...

Good ideas. I'm glad you didn't give in to that woman.

At 9:23 PM, Blogger Lynne said...

Looking forward to the banana split!!!

At 1:21 PM, Blogger Lynda said...

When I would tell people about Laurianne, the "Oh, nos" actually got irritating to me. I can't imagine how it is for you!

I don't know what I can do for you from a distance, and since we have never met, but if you ever need a listening ear, you have my email. And, of course, I am going to keep visiting!

At 2:59 PM, Blogger Lynda said...

Visiting your blog, that is!

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Lynne said...

please visit the blog...thanks, Lynda

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Being Made said...

I just think this is such a wonderful post. I hope it's ok that I linked to it from my blog.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger Lynne said...


Thanks for the note, and glad to read your blog.


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