Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The keeper of the Elephant in the Room

My husband's cousin R is one of my closest friends. She called me last night to tell me that her sister (obviously also my husband's cousin) has stage two beast cancer. She goes in next friday for a mastectomy. Obvioulsy R is very upset. I was talking to her about it today and she was telling me how she doesn't want to keep bringing it up to her sister because she doesn't want to upset her. How the family has to be strong for her. How they can't break down in tears in front of her.

In the back of my mind I'm screaming "NO!". Although I've never had cancer, I have been the keeper of the Elephant in the Room. I know what it's like to have sometime constantly on your mind, and how it hurts to not have anyone mention it. How you feel alone because you think everyone has forgotten. How angry you get because it's the most important event in your life right now, and no one seems to even care! It feels like crap.

I told R that cancer is the only thing that's going to be on her sisters mind for the next few weeks. I told her that it's OK to cry in front of her, because maybe she feels like crying in front of them but is afraid to upset THEM! They should bring it up, because she is thinking about it, and if they talk about it she will be relieved. It will give her a chance to express her feelings. It will let her know they care. Talking about it is the one way to help her sister through this.

The thing I hated the most after my loss was the way people tip-toed around me. They didn't want to bring it up, they didn't want to upset me. It was awfu because I had just been through the most horrible experience of my life, and people were acting like I had the plague! I literally had people who avoided me at the grovery store! I will never do that to anyone. I'm sure I've done it in the past, but I will never do it again.

It's the same thing with this. I assure you, cancer is the only that will be on her mind. Don't ignore it. Talk about it with her. It's probably the kindest thing you can do for her.

The elephant has left the room!

Please keep R's sister in your thoughts and prayers these next few weeks. She could really use it.


Heather said...

I think you're exactly right. I had the same experience you did with people avoiding me and the issue after I lost my baby. It was all I was thinking about, and being forced to make conversation about something else was painful and difficult, when my daughter was the only thing on my mind. Good for you for encouraging your friend to act differently!

I am so sorry about your sweet Brenna.

Brittni said...

I hope you dont mind but I tagged you on my blog.