This morning, I ran across this article I found a few years ago in my urologist’s office as I was having one of my semi-annual cancer followup appointments. (In fact, I just realized that I passed the 5 year cancer free point a couple weeks ago! I missed it!)
When I was going through my surgery and the pre-op and post-op times, there were a lot of people who said a lot of things to me. Some were pretty stupid. (Saying ‘Everything has a reason’ or ‘God won’t give you more than you can handle’ are NOT comforting or helpful!) Some comments were simply failed attempts to try to connect with me in a painful time… by turning the conversation away from me and what I was dealing with. (I don’t really want to hear how you cousin’s brother-in-law’s father died of cancer! You came to visit me… I’m not there to visit whoever you just referenced. I’m already overwhelmed at just what I’m dealing with.)
I KNOW that EVERYONE who came to visit chose to do so because of love and concern for me. I LOVED the visits, just not everything that was offered as ‘support.’
The visitors I appreciated the most came, expressed how sorry they were that I had to face that crappy situation and asked me how I felt. They may or may not have prayed with me. Then, after 10-15 minutes they left me alone.
(There were so many that visited me that day after the surgery that I did’t push the pain button so I could be somewhat conscious with the visitors, again, people that loved me and were concerned about me and I loved them for coming. By that night, when I was all alone and all anesthesia had worn off, I was in so much pain I would have gladly had someone just put me out of my misery. I repented for trying to stay alert to be able to visit with visitors!)
ALL of that to say, I really appreciated this article and wished I could have seen this myself when I started as a pastor 16 years ago. And I think there would be great benefit in requiring people to read it before they’re allowed to visit someone.
It was written by Leslie Starsoneck and appeared in the July/August of 2009 issue of Coping magazine.