A dear family friend and fellow cancer fighter shared a series of articles and I wanted to include a few highlights that resonated with me that hopefully will be a blessing to others.
The first article talked about helpful tips for supporting a friend. I included 10 of the items listed (with a few personal updates).
• Make plans. Don’t be afraid to make plans for the future. This gives your friend something to look forward to.
• Be flexible. Make flexible plans that are easy to change in case something comes up.
• Laugh together. Be humorous and fun when appropriate and when needed. A light conversation or a funny story can make a friend’s day.
• Allow for sadness. Do not ignore uncomfortable topics or feelings.
• Check in. Make time for a check-in phone call or text. Let your friend know that it is okay not to answer the phone.
• Offer to help. Offer to help with specific tasks, such as taking care of children or preparing a meal. However, if your friend declines an offer, don’t take it personally.
• Follow through. If you commit to help, it is important that you follow through on your promise.
• Treat them the same. Try not to let your friend’s condition get in the way of your friendship. As much as possible, treat him or her the same way you always have.
• Talk about topics other than cancer. Ask about interests, hobbies, and other topics not related to cancer. People going through treatment sometimes need a break from talking about the disease.
• Read his or her blog, web page, or group emails. Often, people living with cancer blog about their experience to share with friends and family.
The second article talked about the layers of people involved in the cancer journey and how they relate to one another.
Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. In that ring put the name of the person next closest to the trauma. Repeat the process as many times as needed.
In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order.
The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, "Life is unfair" and "Why me?" That's the one payoff for being in the center ring.
Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.
Comfort IN; Dump OUT
I liked most this idea….
It was extremely helpful for me (and a few family members who have also tried it) to draw my circles of support; another reminder that this is not a solo journey. It helped me to see how loved I am to be surrounded by so many people that care for me and Rob and the Sparkles. It reminded me it was ok to be in the center and that there will be feelings that of mine alone.
I liked the freedom to not have to carry everyone during this journey- caring and love them, making sure they were handling everything ok and trying to be Brave all the time.
And while I understand the idea of dumping out (i.e. not adding more to the center ring or rings), I would challenge others to Dump Up: lift your concerns to God in prayer, He can handle it. That when we speak out to the other circles, it is to seek encouragement to press on.