My Reactions to Others’ Reactions

Continuing my private observations on all aspects of dealing with a sudden, serious event (diagnosed with probably fatal brain cancer).

The most interesting aspect is people’s reaction. My older brother-in-law Manuel noted “people want to participate”, but understandably, they do so on their terms. So for instance, one wants to bring over dinner. Others want to visit. Many offer web links to what they think are helpful sites.

As an aside, one Christian with the same cancer launched into a sort of proselytizing monologue about he immediately thought it was a win for him, because if he died, he’d be with his Jesus, if he lived, remain with his family. Then he realized his wife wasn’t entirely happy with that view. None of it did anything for me; I was hoping for some advice, suggestions for online support groups, etc. He said he’d provide more in a follow up email but so far nothing.

All mean well but few are helpful, and I have to adapt to everybody’s interpretation of what is good for me. That can be tiring if I respond to more than a very few so I brush off or ignore almost all offers.  No one asks what help I could actually use. So for instance, in the case of web links, what they actually do is place another task on my to-do list, were I to follow and study each one. No one offers to do any research in the site they offer.

In that respect it’s the secular equivalent of the Christian statement “I’m praying for you”. It costs the one making the statement just a minute or two of time (to actually say a few words of prayer, or to Google a link or two).  It makes the person feel good for them self almost entirely, not the recipient.

The one truly useful help was my boss and administrative people at work who thought I might be eligible for a kind of disability insurance to extend my work leave, and ultimately get a bit more retirement.  They suggested the possibility first and I thought that was another unwelcome added task. But they didn’t stop there. They investigated, filled out the application as much as possible, and sent me the forms with clear instructions as to what I had to finish and what the doctor had to do. Even left envelopes for us to mail everything back, properly. That might be just their job but it was a big, and unexpected, help. Thanks everybody.


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