Hiding Our NEEDS: A Follow-up To Monday’s Post

At the time of this writing I have just finished reading two lengthy, heartfelt responses to my post Monday, and after reading them I felt I needed to clarify my musings from that article.

One of the replies was from a friend who has been through a cancer diagnosis and has a much more intimate perspective on the subject than I do, the other was from a friend in a similar situation to the ones I talked about but spent a lot of time without a diagnosis, and when she finally had one, thankfully, it was good news.

I’d like to address a couple of points first:

First of all, both mentioned that they thought it was harsh of me to call my grandfather selfish, and maybe that was not quite the word I meant. To help you understand my thoughts on the subject, let me explain that my grandfather was a help-a-holic. Not only would he go out of his way to help family members when they needed it, he also insisted on helping out even if we didn’t need it…..often assuming that we wanted the help but didn’t want to bother him with it. A huge part of his self image seemed to be tied up in being the patriarch of his family, and he would do whatever he could to offer assistance no matter the cost to his time, health or wallet.

He was generous to a fault, and was an incredible role model, but therein lies the problem. He raised his kids, and then they raised their kids to think that you show love through action, which is a great thing, but the flip side is that it can feel like a lack of action shows a lack of love. Why didn’t we notice his fatigue, his weight loss or the other small signs that he wasn’t well? Did he ever wonder those things or feel like if we loved him more we would have noticed? I sure hope not.

Secondly, both thought I was making a judgement on people who choose to keep hurts, worries or illnesses private from friends and family, and I understand why given that I used the word “selfish” in conjunction with my grandfather. Leslie said:

The patient’s diagnosis is *their* diagnosis and *their* choice to handle it any way (share, not share) that brings them peace and a better chance at healing — in *their* mind. And if not sharing brings the patient those two things, then to hell with everyone else.

And Kat said:

The lesson I learned from my own little episode is to try and understand when friends hide things from us. They have their reasons — and as silly? selfish? as those reasons seem to us they felt perfectly valid and right to themselves.

I regret that I gave that impression, because that was not my point at all. I sincerely hope that if I hurt or offended anyone by my choice of wording that you accept my apology.

The poem I shared begins like this:

Cry out your pain.
Let others know your need.

The most important word there is “need“. If what you need is privacy, if what you need is a sense of normalcy, if what you need is to control your personal information then this post was not about you.

This post is about needing a shoulder to cry on but not wanting to burden your friends. It is about all the times we hide our pain because we are afraid to rely on anyone else lest we become another one of life’s obligations. It is not necessarily about cancer or any particular physical illness but also all of the emotional or psychological struggles big and small which are a part of life. It is about trusting your loved ones to want to support and help you when that is what you needIt is about remembering that you are not alone, and that others may actually find the opportunity to show you how much they love and care for you a blessing.

Thank you Kat and Leslie for your thoughts because I was able to re-read Monday’s article with a whole new eye and knew I needed to explain further. To other readers, I should let you know that Leslie has an amazing blog at http://www.trustlifetoday.com. It is worth checking out! And finally, let me share this picture of my sweet grandfather who I miss very much, and who taught me all about love being a verb whether it’s love of family or friends.

My grandpa and my daughter....two loves of my life.

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