Can You Answer Six Questions On How to Be Compassionate to A Loved One Coping With Cancer?
Most people want to be compassionate, especially if it involves a loved one or friend coping with cancer.
We would like to think that having a love-filled heart is all that’s necessary to do the “right thing;” to ease our loved one or friend’s journey. I’ve found with my cancer and serving people coping with it, there often is a gap between wanting to be compassionate and knowing how to display it.
When you think about being compassionate to someone living with cancer, what specifically should you do? Unfortunately, many people have only a general notion of what compassionate behavior should be. Usually, it’s thought of in terms such as “being present,” “careful listening,” “acceptance,” “non-judgment,” or “treating the person as I would want to be treated.”
They are all important general concepts; the whats of compassion. But people coping with cancer face a myriad of challenges every day. To them, how compassion is displayed is more important.
Think about the difference between what and how of compassion as similar to the difference between knowing you want to be a great musician and understanding how to become one.
Compassion has two major components: intent and knowledge how to implement it. The compassionate person knows what she wants to do (e.g., provide support, be empathetic, etc.) but unless she is living with an acute life-threatening illness, may not know how to implement her good intensions.
If you know someone living with cancer—and if you don’t, you will—try answering the following six questions specifically.
1) What should you do when we share our diagnosis with you?
2) How should you react to our fluctuating emotions?
3) What can you do to compensate for our accumulated losses?
4) How should you communicate with us?
5) When we experience physical pain, how will you help us?