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Tuesday 14 October 2003

Like the windmills in my mind....

A good friend of mine is going through the wringer at the mo. His Mum has just found out for the 3rd time that she's suffering from Cancer. His Dad is already quite ill and, for his Mum, this is the last straw; she doesn't want any more treatment.

Recently, in situations like this, people seem to expect me to know what to do and say. Friends, and even Sharon, seem to think that because I've been through it (my first wife was terminally ill for 6 months before she died) I can help others cope. And I can understand why. I can understand how people think that my experience would give me an insight. I will do my best to to use my experience.

But the truth is I am as lost for words as everyone else. I do know what he is going through. I can empathise and sympathise but there is nothing I can say that will make it any easier to bear. He will cope with it in his own way. If he needs someone to listen I can do that, if he needs someone join him for a beer or two, I can do that. I don't know the magic incantation that will make it any less painful though.

October 14, 2003 9:40 PM | Me


A few years ago now when I was still a Mormon, a church member asked me to speak to someone who's husband had recently committed suicide. As I had once been in the same boat, so to speak, she thought I'd be able to help her "comes to terms with it"
Of course I couldn't and it would have been foolish for me to try. The experience was a very personal one and not nearly the same apart from the fact that my husband was dead and so was hers.
It's a fallacy to believe that if you've experienced something that you must then be qualified to help others who find themselves in the same situation. What is the best thing to do is to get them to find a a good support network using official channels(the CAB, the doctor etc) and take up any offer of counselling that they may be offered.
Other than that the best thing you can do is what you've already said; be a friend and listen if they want to talk. As mere humans what else is there that we can offer?

My Mum did volunteer work for Cruise, a bereavement counselling charity. They specifically restricted people from doing counselling for up to 2 years after a family bereavement because it's difficult to separate your own experience from the other persons and therefore be able to work out what's best for them.

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