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Monday, January 11, 2016

What to say to someone who has cancer....

Shalom again.

As an avid U2 fan, I have read many books about the band and its individual members.  Without a doubt, one of the names most mentioned by the members of U2 is David Bowie.  While there have been many influences on U2, David Bowie was/is one of the greatest.  I awoke this morning to news of David Bowie's death.  One of the first "tributes" I saw was from Bono, regarding his favorite set list of David Bowie's.  David Bowie, aged 69, lost his battle with cancer.

I often here of the "fight against cancer."  And, when a person dies, they have "lost that battle."  Cancer is a disease that can affect anyone/everyone.  There is no way to run or hide from cancer.  And, when a person is dying from cancer, it can be extremely painful (in so many ways) for not only the person afflicted, but also for their family and friends - and EVEN the doctors/nurses who are there to help.

So, this begs the question - What do you say to someone who has cancer?  Our humanity encourages us to wish them a speedy hope the doctors/nurses are able to come up with a cure.  As the son of someone who died of cancer, I can tell you there came a point when wishing a speedy recovery for my mother was the furthest thought from my mind.  So, then, did I want people to pray for my mother's death? No.  However, when she did die, there was some relief that I felt...for my mother was no longer in pain, and she was no longer suffering.

When I sit with family members of those who are dying from cancer, I do find it hard sometimes to find the right words.  After all, there are NO right words.  As a matter of fact, sometimes it is better to just be silent and present.  Being present means staying strong while they are not able to be.  Providing a place for them to cry or scream (or show any emotion) is so important.

If you ask someone with cancer what they need...the answers vary from person to person.  Some have no idea what to ask for, while others ask for prayer.  What do you say to someone who does not believe in God?  That, too, is a tough question.  The last thing you want to do is try to convince them of something they do not believe in or connect to.  Just be present...

Just be present.  All else will fall into place.  For those who have lost a loved one to cancer, be present when they need to cry or scream.  For those who are afflicted by cancer, be present when they ask questions - do not feel the need to answer, just be present.