The following passage is not written by me. It is completely the words of a woman named “torsum” who wrote on a blog that I happened upon. In order to protect her privacy, I won’t say which blog it was but she was talking about the unexpected death of her son. She so eloquently wrote about what it felt like to be treated by the people around her after his death, even those she had known so well.
As I read these words, all I could feel was how I was treated once I became sick and people in my life started to find out. I hid my Chronic Lyme Disease for at least five years because I didn’t want to be looked at any differently. I was right to do so because once I couldn’t hide it anymore, the dynamics of my relationships started to change. Read her words below and adapt them to someone who is fighting an illness. Maybe then, you will know what it feels like when I had to say, “I am sick…”
I quote torsum as I say, these are the people in your life when something terrible happens:
The comforters - these beautiful people are warm and tender. They look into my eyes and see my tears, and they seem to know intuitively what I need. They can articulate how they feel, and recognize my never-ending pain, and sometimes they don’t need to say anything at all because their body language is obvious. They hug and they squeeze my hand as required. They’re not afraid of their emotions and tears, or of mine. They make it clear how much they care about me and how much they also miss my son. They are, unfortunately, so rare.
The try hards - they have their heart in the right place, but they don’t know what to say or how to be. I totally understand because I don’t know how to be either. They fumble and stumble with words, but their presence is noted and their love is felt.
The fixers - these people are going to ‘cure’ my grief! They tell me that ‘time will heal’, to ‘keep my chin up’, to read this book, to go to church, to see another therapist, to be positive…..but have they ever lost a child? No.
The drama addicts - these people were once friends, lost through the passage of time and moving cities etc. They came out of the woodwork as soon as they heard Will was in ICU. They emailed, sent texts and were wanting to know the details of my ‘crisis’, and how on earth I was coping. Then after the funeral, they disappeared again.
The avoiders - they literally turn the other way at social gatherings, or in the shopping centre. They have absolutely no ability to communicate, although they did send a card or flowers at the start. And if by chance they do interact, there is no mention of what has happened. It’s like he never existed. These people are good to hang out with on days when you are trying to move forward and pretend it never happened yourself.
I have had comforters, try hards, fixers, drama addicts and avoiders since being stricken with this illness and that’s ok. I have come to accept that not everyone knows where to turn when someone that they love becomes THIS sick. They don’t know what to say, how to help, what to do or not do at any given time…they feel helpless. What I won’t accept are the ones who gave up trying.
My body may still be lying here in this bed, withering away from disease and pain but my mind and my heart still function and feel. I know now, more than ever before, who is standing in my corner of life and I appreciate every one of them. The others, I have let go of because they did not deserve to be there in the first place.
There is nothing worse on this earth than wasted time and wasted love because God only gave you so much of each. Use it wisely.