Choosing affirmation

A colleague recently recounted her experience sitting with a friend whose husband was dying. Her friend was, understandably, devastated. She was weeping, distraught, and terrified to take a nap—much less a shower. But my colleague sensed something deeper: Her friend was also scared to take a breath, have a meal, enjoy a moment of peace, for fear of seeming insufficiently grief-stricken, of being somehow inappropriate.

It is an easy trap to fall into.

We greet serious matters with proper gravity. We want our loved ones to know how desperately they will be missed. We want the world to know how badly we hurt.  We want to show respect. Yet in the process we can miss opportunities too.

We can literally make ourselves sick with grief. Knowing life as we know it will soon be over, we can shut ourselves in and ensure life in any form is over. We can simply give up.

Or we can choose life. And that includes choosing life and affirmation at the point of death.

My colleague knows something about this; she lost a child to cancer in a year-long battle.  And as she sat with her friend on that evening last week, her counsel was simple: Share this time with your husband. Let him know you will be all right after he dies—and that his memory will bring you joy, and warmth and serenity. Choose affirmation.