Monday, January 14, 2008

Terminal illness

Question: I've been ill for a couple of weeks now and also have been dealing with some emotional news that I think may be hindering my recovery. A dear friend of mine is dying from cancer. I am having a really hard time dealing with this on many levels...what do I do for her and her family, how do I explain this to my kids (5 & 8) who are friends with her kids (3 & 5). How do I keep myself from being consumed by grief and anger? Do you have some suggestions for practices that may help me to better grasp the challenges I am facing?

Suggestions: Wow, you do have a lot happening in your life!

First, your health. Let's lower your stress with some gentle breathing and meditation. Find a comfortable position. That might mean laying in a warm bath. Whatever works for you. Bring awareness to your exhales--no forcing or even deep abdominal work. Picture each exhale like a breeze blowing in the tropics causing the palm leaves to gently sway. Over time, you may allow the exhales to last a bit longer, but keep it very restful, as if you are laying on a hammock on a summer's day.

Once you feel peaceful and restful, you can add one of these affirmations:

"I freely take in Divine ideas that are filled with the breath and the intelligence of Life. This is a new moment."
"I lovingly release the past. They are free and I am free. All is well in my heart now."

Say this through out the day, as well. Even look in the mirror and say it with conviction--with feeling and faith.

Now for your friend. I empathize with the desire to help in some way, but know that that's not always possible. Oriah (Mountain Dreamer) says, "Sometimes we can only keep our heart high for another." To be there without pity, but to be there with an open heart and lifted spirit.

You might want to check out books by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross . I have found her insights and viewpoints invaluable when dealing with grief.

If your friend is open to healing avenues, you might bring her Hay's Cancer CD . I don't know anyone first hand, but have heard some amazing testimonials from using Louise Hays work with healing from cancer. In general Louise Hay says, "All cancer stems from held resentment." (An excellent reason for us all to let go of the past.)

As for the children, Dr. Kubler-Ross's site offers various suggestions. She was a big advocate of NOT keeping children in the dark and encouraging them to express themselves through drawings. I agree with the idea of keeping the children involved. With that said, many psychotherapists say to wait until the death is near.

In the end, you have to use your best judgment. I'd stay tuned in and aware of how much they seem to be picking up on--most likely it's more than you think. This is why I agree with Dr Ross and would open communication. It's a lot better (in my opinion) to allow kids to express than to be left with fear that something is happening that Mom won't even talk about. Again, it really depends on how close your kids are to her family.

Ah, grief and anger. First, allow yourself to feel. I'd highly recommend having your husband take the kids out of the house and spend some time sobbing, screaming, throwing pillows, punching the bed, and so on. Don't hold back. These are strong and volatile emotions, they will express themselves. How is your choice: either letting them out on a pillow, displaced anger at a loved one, or your own health problems. I'd go for the pillow.

Also, anger at "God" and your friend are very likely and an openly expressed letter or talking too might be in order-even if the letter is never sent. I'm not saying chew your friend out, but to express frustration in private and allow anger at her for getting sick, can be very releasing. Again, NO JUDGMENT--take time to let yourself feel.

After releasing--and odds are this will have to be done a number of times--follow up with

"I forgive you. I forgive me. All is well."

(Check out my previous class post regarding grief.) Do this affirmation after each release (pillow punching time). If you can find no other time, yell in your car.

"All is well," can be a hard pill to swallow--but consider that there is a purpose and that these events are taking place for a reason.

Finally, here is a poem that I really enjoy:

What Is Dying?

I am standing on the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch her until at length she is a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says, 'There! She's gone!' Gone where? Gone from my sight, that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living weight to her destined harbor.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, 'There! She's gone!' There are other voices ready to take up the glad shout, 'There she comes!'
~ Charles H. Brent
I hope you find some peace.
Love Much,


Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

1 comment:

rand(om) bites said...

Oh hon, this came at a good time. A friend of mine is going through chemo right now and some of this sure helps. Thank you.