A coworker’s dad is battling cancer, and has just taken what sounds like a significant turn for the worse. The coworker is understandably distraught.

My heart goes out to him, of course, but the reason I’m even writing about it is that, naturally, the situation has me thinking about my own father’s battle with cancer, and the dragged-out, painful process of losing him. There’s still not much positive I can say about that whole time period. I’m not even sure I believe the “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” canard, chiefly because it’s taken a crazy long time to recover even to this point, and I still feel like I’m operating at about 50% of my prior capabilities.

I think about the best that can be said about going through such difficult times is that, if we allow ourselves, we can become better listeners, more empathetic, more in touch with our deepest hopes and fears, and more aware and appreciative of the precious fleeting goodness all around us.

That’s good and bad. I suspect all of that may be why I’m operating at 50% — all the added awareness and emotional processing may be crowding out the rational and analytical processes in my poor, overworked brain. And it’s hard to function normally in society when you’re a walking barometer of other people’s emotional states. But then again, maybe that’s a version of being made “stronger” — I don’t know. It’s certainly not the kind of “stronger” I was anticipating.

But I guess I’ll take it.

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Quick lunch-time update: musing about surviving tough times

8 thoughts on “Quick lunch-time update: musing about surviving tough times

  • February 20, 2007 at 1:28 pm
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    I know what you are continuing to go through. It will get easier, but such times change you forever. Some things should, you know, and the illness and death of those dear to us, are one of them.

    Reply
  • February 20, 2007 at 2:20 pm
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    Hmm. In my case, “that which does not kill you makes you stronger” was about learning how to *stop* being a walking barometer of other people’s emotional states, not about giving in to it.

    -J

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  • February 20, 2007 at 3:08 pm
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    Good point. Maybe I’m just not there yet.

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  • February 20, 2007 at 6:13 pm
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    But see, if there is any good that comes out of grief, it is the beauty of being able to grieve on your own terms. That which has brought you to grief wasn’t within your control, but how and for how long you need to mourn is completely yours to own. There is no prescription for how long you “should” take to be over your dad. My dad was killed tragically in 1991. Some days it feels like I haven’t seen him in a lifetime, and yet others it feels like yesterday. Some anniversaries I feel like rushing through the day and staying busy, others I want to stay in bed and grieve all over again. I was daddy’s little girl, even at age 24 when he died…I’ll bet you were your daddy’s girl, too…and that is a treasure we can both hold on to for the rest of our lives. On days like these, it’s ok to just revel in your grief and press through the pain. There will be time tomorrow to hit the grindstone of life again. For today, take care of you.
    Here are hugs coming your way… 🙂

    Reply
  • February 21, 2007 at 1:11 am
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    I don’t believe “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” in all cases. Sometimes, that which does not kill us makes us nearly dead.

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  • February 21, 2007 at 8:56 am
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    Ginger, this made me cry. Thanks for both understanding and making it clear just how well you do understand.

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  • February 21, 2007 at 12:06 pm
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    Your description of your feelings about losing your dad this way resonated with me. I lost my Dad to cancer, and yes, the slow painful process will change you forever. My sister-in-law was just diagnosed with breat cancer, and my wife lost her first husband at the age of 30. All of this is a too longwinded way to say I feel ya. Hope I’m not being presumptious with advice…but save some of your personal energy for you, it’s all well and good to be there, and be a rock to whomeever needs it, but be mindful of your own health needs. Good luck.

    Mack

    Reply
  • September 5, 2007 at 6:14 am
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    Sometimes such difficult periods can be healthy for us because when dealing with them we can become stronger and learn how to talk with other people and many other things we haven’t noticed before this period.
    Cara Fletcher
    http://www.how2dealwithdifficultpeople.com/

    Reply

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