We were supposed to go to Vancouver for the weekend. However, something niggled with me about my leg. It was feeling very tight and itchy, especially night. I didn’t trust it. I also didn’t really want to go. The closer I get to death the more I find myself pulling inward. I don’t want to go out and having people over is difficult.
A great article appeared in Psychology Today I am going to pull the lid off the can that most people with serious/terminal disease face and that is having to console people that we are going to die. This is not at all appropriate. We need you to be strong. I don’t have the energy to or the ability to be your rock while I am dying. If you think of each ring as a group of people the immediate family, extended family, close friends etc.1 At the centre, is the person for whom the even it is happening. So, in my case, I would be the person in the centre, Deb, Angelina and Joe on the next ring etc. The idea of the ring is that people on the outside layers feed comfort in and those on the inside layers get comfort from those around them. The best example I have is when my mother died. My sister’s friend Sharon was then. After my mom died, she kept going over and picking her up and hugging her and dropping her back to the bed saying how nice, generous and thoughtful she was. Now, anyone who know my mother knew that she was none of these things. It disturbed me to no end that she continued to do this. She would throw my mother’s body down and there would be a perceptible bounce. I told Kathy to get Sharon out of there. Sharon was more aggrieved than we were, If were all broken by my mother’s death. The situation above could/would of gone very differently.2
Here is the ring:
To me, this graphic made so much sense. I have often found my self comforting others when something bad had happened to me. Part of this is my personality. I learned to compartmentalize things in my mind so I could get through just about any circumstance without losing it. It was also a necessary skill in my family. I would have to put my tears away until later, much later.
If you know someone who has a family member who is dying offer to make some mears that they can share or use themselves. Volunteer to clean the house. Chances are likely they are spending all their available time with their relative.
Limit your visits. I had a great visit on Saturday with some friends. But I could barely keep my eyes open. If you want to come over and do something3 then stay as long as you are need. The max I seem to be able to concentrate is about 30 minutes.
The big problem that happens in this situation its that well-meaning people say call me if there is something they can do. I tried this once over the summer. Not only did they not show up, they didn’t message etc. So make specific offers – “I make the best lasagna. Can I bring a pan over?” The reason I am not going to answer this question is anymore is that it makes me vulnerable. In this case, I thought I had a problem solved and I didn’t. It makes much more work us than is needed.
Know your place in the ring in the situation. Are you a co-worker of someone who’s partner is dying. Unless you’ve become a member of their chosen family, you are way out in the rights and you could take a casserole, mow the lawn, clean the house etc. The ring theory also helps people know where they are located it in the complex experience of grief.
Oh, and in other news, I ave cellulitis again!
1 You can customize your rings.
2 Deb make sure that Sharon is far away from me when I die.
3 Cook, clean etc.