The title of my blog today many would say is a contradiction in terms, and, of course it is. The British way is to appear to cope when really the journey through bereavment is a struggle and supressing those feelings only adds to the pain.
For those who may have nursed a loved one through cancer, to a certain degree the bereavement process has already started as we see our loved ones slip away.
As I frequently write we keep our loved ones alive in our heart and our mind and the TV Dr Hilary on the Lorraine programme echoed that fact today. He also agreed how it is far better to let our grief out and share and talk about our feelings.
My own personal experiences have made me determined to talk to the bereaved rather than avoid them or talking about their loss. As always it is kinder to give them the opportunity to talk, cry and realise you probably won’t have the right words. However, listening and checking they are OK is a start…and not just the week of the funeral it is the weeks, months and even years that they need your friendship and continued support.
Nobody copes…we may feel anger, sad, guilt, depressed along with a whole host of feelings which are beyond our control hour by hour in those initial weeks..but coping probably isn’t one of them.
There are of course great support charities around and steering somebody towards them and/or a counsellor if appropriate would be the act of a true friend.
I am a great believer in giving the other guy the benefit of the doubt and trying to look for the best, but appreciate that with some individuals this is not so easy.
As a child I remember my mother asking us to even make allowances for the bullies as after all they were basically unhappy children. Some truth in that of course and my regular followers know that anti-bullying is a subject of frequent posts.
In life it is often about changing our own attitudes which makes us stronger.
To quote Mahatma Ghandi:-
‘Before we expect to see our desired qualities in others, we should assimilate them in ouselves. We are all wonderful and extremely beautiful from the inside and the more we see the same thing in others, we shall get the same in return.’
Even in business this is true and from an early age I was encouraged to ‘kill customers with kindness‘ backed up by great training films featuring John Cleese on how not to treat them!
It has been my privilege to work within the field of dementia and follow on-going research into this particular challenge that so many families are facing on a day to day basis.
As with any medical condition research is vital and the Bio Medical Research Centre at UCLH London support training and resources for research including dementia. Please read their excellent interview with Jonathan Schott on their website link follows:-
Some years ago I attended a patient recovery meeting held at my local hospital. The staff and speakers made it quite clear that the ratio for recovery lies 20% with surgeon and 80% with patient. I will clarify by saying it was said with regards to hip and knee operations but I know it applies to far more and not just in terms of operation recovery.
If exercise is part of the recovery journey then we must do it, if rest is recommended for other treatment then we should take heed too. However, I am in no doubt, and due to own personal experience, that positive healing comes from within and how we use our mind to heal the mind and the body is vital.
Positive healing may come to us via those that love us and help us when we are suffering physically or mentally, and, the medical experts… not forgetting our wonderful nurses who tend to our practical and emotional needs when in hospital. Often a few kind words and positive approach will register far more than the pain killers.
Over the past ten years plus I have had amazing support and treatment from a London hospital and my specialist has an incredible positive presence. A few minutes of speaking with him one feels better, based on trust, his expertise and his approach to his patients.
When we are ill we are all at our most vulnerable and that is when we really truly appreciate how we are treated and supported. However, the most important person in our endeavours to be well and strong is of course ourselves. Applying mindfulness, being positive, but realistic in our step at a time recovery will enable us to achieve our goal.
Keeping fit and positive in mind will always help us to recover from any illness or help us come to terms with any limitations that illness may bring, it should be preventative rather than cure. However, if we are struggling it is better to be honest and talk to those that can help…but only if they know.
A Dr uttered a few simple words to me once ‘you will get through this‘ and he was right I did. But his faith and positivity have never been forgotten.
My regular followers will know there are a few cancer charities and conditions that I like to support with awareness. Oesophageal Cancer is one which is dear to my own heart.
In the past I was happy to donate my own story to the OPA -Oesophageal Patients Association and continue to help with awareness. Anybody that has worked within the not-for-profit sector and/or medical and health environments know the value of awareness and of course research.
The OPA now have various support groups and their website http://www.opa.org.uk is well-worth visiting both as a patient and/or a carer of supportive family member.
Sadly Oesophageal cancers are often either misdiagnosed or not diagnosed. Also far too many of us self-diagnose what we believe to be ‘indigestion’ and reach for the well advertised remedies. This was the case with my own mother who did not receive the right treatment in time but certainly took a lot of ‘remedies’ encouraged by her GP!
As today’s blog is ‘listening themed’ listen to your body it is trying to tell you what is wrong; emotionally and physically which are of course more often than not inter-linked. Find out why it is reacting the way it is; diet…stress..or medical? Masking symptoms may be a short term fix but becomes the longer term problem.
Our digestive system is of course similar to our brain..rubbish in rubbish out! Seriously, if you are looking for a good book and ways to be kinder to your own system:
‘The clever guts diet’ by Dr Mosley is an informative and interesting read.
Be mindful..eat slowly.
Closing comment Yes chocolate (with dark and high cocoa content) is good for you.
During the course of both business and social meetings this week friends and colleagues have all mentioned the value of being listened to in both personal and business environments.
Whatever age we have arrived at in life, and, whatever journey we have travelled to get there we will have times when we need support..although we may fight against admitting it.
During my early morning dog walk (before being glued to the laptop) a colleague and I not only covered many steps but many topics. Both professionals in pastoral and practice mindfulness but ‘mindful’ that our maturity and qualifications enable us to do so whereas others are struggling particularly today’s teenagers/students.
We both discussed the rewards we get when we have a break-through with somebody we are trying to support and how the use of eye-contact, or rather its avoidance, plays such an important part. We have many senses and our hearing being our best gift for those that need to talk and not be judged. Sitting next to somebody, respecting their space and not intimidating them takes patience and consideration..but it’s easier than we think. That’s all part of mindfulness…slowing down and using our intellect rather than our emotions will always be fruitful.
Over the weekend find time to be ‘that friend’ who listens. Please give those you love the platform and opportunity to talk, but moreover the chance for someone to listen.
We can all remember where we were when the news broke on 9/11 and the emotional effect that had once the reality of what happened unfolded.
I can hardly believe it is 16 years since the world watched in disbelief as loved ones waited to hear knews. I was working for a client and a team member’s son escaped losing his life, he was hungover and didn’t go into his twin towers office that fateful morning. As my brother and I discussed last week we never know what life holds in store.
As I reflect today of those who did lose loved ones and/or were affected emotionally by what they witnessed I remember the weeks that followed. My mother was in her last week’s fighting her battle with cancer and we sat looking at the newspapers discussing what had happened. She was grateful for somebody to talk about anything other than the fact she was dying. Always somebody to think of others she expressed her concerns for the world my daughter (then aged four) would be growing up into.
As ever tell those you love that you love them and show kindness where possible to those that maybe you don’t!