By Susan Keats, Contributor &  Seize-the-Day Propagandist

An old friend of mine recently chopped her finger off.

It wasn’t intentional and it wasn’t her whole finger, but it was a nice chunk. She was trimming plants in her garden and trimmed her thumb right off along with a stem. Ugh! It must have been awful!

This happened while I was still undergoing treatment and feeling pretty sick myself. She and I had not been in touch for a long time, but when I heard about it I sent her an email expressing how surprised and sorry I was to hear of her finger situation. I asked if she was ok? Could I help? She wrote back immediately. Am I ok? What about you? How can I help YOU?

People like helping. I like helping too. Even if you are living in your own help-worthy situation, it still feels good to offer to be of help to another person. When I was still sick, people liked to help me, which at times caught me off guard, but always made me feel grateful.

People sent cards and emails saying “thinking of you” and that felt good. You never really know if people are thinking about you much, and now I can say for sure that people do think about you when you need them and it truly helps to make you feel better.

The interesting part is that a person’s simple and kind statement of “I’m thinking about you” makes you think about them. I marveled at my good fortune to know so many wonderful people who took me to chemo, sent me cards, cupcakes, books, magazines, bandannas, cooked soup and blueberry muffins, all left quietly at my door.

Every time I find out that someone has been “thinking of me,” my heart feels warm, my throat tightens with happy appreciation. I am still so grateful.

I spend a whole lot of time thinking about these people, wondering over the time they have taken to let me know they are there for me. The connectedness I feel to every one of these people still remains with me. I realize how together we all are in this world. There must be something in our interconnectedness that not only causes us to feel good, but also helps to make us well.

I’m telling you about all of this because when a friend is in a tough situation, maybe a divorce, a sick parent, or any kind of crisis, we don’t always know what to do. So for starters, here is my advice: Simply let your friend know that you are thinking about them. Send a card, drop off a magazine, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you care and your friend feels it and that is a huge step towards helping your friend.

My finger-pruning friend surprised me when she rang my bell with a stitched up, numb thumb. She was carrying a large white paper bag filled with 2 tubs of homemade pasta sauce, pasta (both cooked and uncooked), flowers, salad and home made cookies. Wow what a feast! And I didn’t have to even think about dinner. It is amazing to me that someone who has been through her own situation has taken so much time to think about helping me.

Now, there is someone you know who needs you. Go find a way to tell them that they are in your thoughts.

In 2010 Susan Keats received life-changing news after a routine mammogram. She had breast cancer. After plenty of tears, anxiety and soul searching, she finished treatments and is now entering a year of renewal, growth, and recovery. Susan hopes that those who are just stepping into the experience of illnesses or crises will find the same comfort and inspiration that she felt when others shared their experiences and wisdom with her. She is looking forward to rediscovering parts of herself that she had allowed to fall away. This is going to be a great year!

Please leave comments telling me what kind things people have done for you that have left you feeling grateful?

Go here to follow all of Susan’s posts in her Afterlife Series!

 

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Tags: cancer, friendship, health, illness, keats, recovery, support, susan

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