I trust you are getting back into the swing of things and have settled into the year nicely. It's been tremendous receiving all the feedback from everyone about this newsletter, especially the topics different people want me to tackle - keep them coming!
January is always my 're-branding' month and getting all those things done that the latter part of the previous year didn't allow. So if you are keen, check out my new website and let me know what you think. At the same time I have two new free E-Books, The Easy Self Improvement Guide and Unlocking the Niche Code which you can download by clicking on the links. I intend writing at least one new one per month for you to enjoy.
I received a request to write about coping with terminal illnesses, especially when one has friends who are suddenly diagnosed with this, or even one of their family members. I always find December/January very trying when I hear of deaths and sicknesses over this period. Once again this year I lost two good friends and found out about another two that don't have much time left. Yes this is an inspirational newsletter, and it is my aim to make you positive with it. However, it is also there to instil hope and help you master life skills so that you can cope with what is happening out there. The reality is, death and sickness are part of every day life and I find very few people really know and understand how to cope with this. Why do you think I keep talking about savouring and enjoying every moment and living in the now?
I am going to share 7 tips with you, and have also put them on video in my monthly Quick Tips again in English, Afrikaans & German. You can click on the links here.
7 Tips on Coping with Family & Friends who are Terminally Ill.
For most people, when they hear that someone is suddenly seriously ill, they close up and don't visit this friend. or they become very distanced. They don't mean to do this, it's almost subconscious - but it is a reality. Why does this happen? There are various reasons, but for most people, the biggest reason is guilt. Believe it or not, they retract from the friendship because they feel guilty that they are healthy and their friend is sick. They don't know what to say, feel awkward in their company and hence have difficulty communicating and making the time to visit. It tends to be a very common human reaction. Here's the deal ... there is nothing you can do about it. It's not your fault! That is the way life is. Some of us get sick, others don't. The sooner you accept this fact and realise it has nothing to do with you, the easier it will be to carry on that friendship and give the support that is needed.
Listen! The most important thing you can do when someone close to you is going to die, is to listen to them. There are things they need to say and get off their chest. You may once again feel awkward just sitting there and not knowing what to say. You don't have to say anything, just let them talk. They need someone to listen to them. At the same time you must never be judgemental - but only listen. Once you let them talk, you will see that they will go through many natural emotions such as anger, fear and frustration. This is all part of it, and this is where it is important that you don't take what they say personally, but merely be there to support them by listening.
Ask them what they need. Most of the time we tend to become so sad and worried about their wellbeing that we get caught up in our own thoughts and forget to ask them what they need. You need to ask them if there is anything that they want from home, whether it's their favourite music CD, a teddy bear or a book to read. This is the time where you need to be attentive and aware of the needs of your friend.
Offer to assist the family. Again, we tend to forget about the other family members who are also going through an incredibly stressful time. As an example, your best friend's husband is suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer. Besides going to the hospital to give moral support and assist where you can, ask her if she needs help in her daily routine. She may be running around like mad fetching the kids from school, cooking dinner for the family and working herself into the ground just so that she can spend that extra hour in the evening with her husband. Why don't you offer to make dinner for her kids, or have them over at your place two nights a week and fetch them from school? Guess what, it suddenly gives her more time to spend with her husband. She is less stressed which in turn he will notice immediately and hence their remaining moments together become so much more meaningful. These are the little things you can do which mean a lot in a friendship. Saying you are there for them is not the same as actually doing something. We all tend to say, "Phone me if you need me." Friends don't want to be a burden and odds are they won't phone. If you really care for someone, you will make the effort to go and offer real practical help.
Make a video recording. I know this sounds odd. But often when someone is terminally ill, everyone around them runs around to get everything done. There is such a rush to finalise legalities, look for money to pay for costs, etc. that again not enough time is spend with that patient during their remaining time. So while everyone else is running around, why don't you take your video camera and ask that person if there is anything they would like to say. They could want to leave a message for their spouse, their children, or even grand children. It would be almost like an extra inheritance or food for thought for posterity. Just think about it, how many people do you know where the partner has died? Don't you think it would have been special for them to have a video with a personal message on it?
Think of the small things. Maybe this person want to see an old friend just one more time. Something which the rest of the family doesn't place importance on at that moment, as they have other issues to finalise and sort out. This is where you come in and try find this friend and bring him/her along to visit. What about their favourite chocolate - find out what it is and bring one with. As a society, and a write about it often, people are way to materialistic and place importance on the wrong things in life. It's unfortunately only at times like this that most people get that reality check and realise that they have focused on the wrong things in life up until now. Suddenly that photo album of the kids when they were small is important. You may see some of these things as small, but to that dying person they mean the world. Focus on the emotional things and try and help where you can. It makes a huge difference.
Never, never ever say that you understand what that person is going through. Many people believe when they visit a dying person, it is comforting to say this. Hello! How can you ever understand what they are going through. You are not the one dying and leaving a family behind. There is no way you can know what is going on in their minds. So don't be so naive and insult your friend by saying this. Rather apply the other 6 tips above and in that way give genuine sincere support from the heart. That will be way more appreciated.
Finally, I trust some of these tips have hit home and given you some food for thought. For many of us it is a very tough and trying period as well when we see someone close to us slipping away. It makes us feel terrible and question life. But, and this is a big but - do we ever take the life lesson home? Look at tip 6 again - terminally ill people suddenly realise it's the small things in life that count. Saying the "I Love You's", giving that kiss or that hug, spending time often with those close to you. Realising that doing admin at home at night is not as important as spending time with your child, etc. etc. Live in the now and savour every moment - you do not know how long it will last! The day you have to say goodbye, will you have regrets, or will you say that you sucked every ounce out of life and enjoyed it to the fullest?
On that note here are a few last thoughts on making your future all it is meant to be:
1. Drink plenty of water.
2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.
3. Eat more foods that grow ON trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured IN plants..
4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.
5. Play more games & Read more books than you did in 2010 .
6. Have more fun than you did in 2010
7. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day
8. Sleep at least 7 hours.
9. Take a 10-30 minute walk daily. And while you walk, smile.
1. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
2. Don't have negative thoughts on things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
3. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
4. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
5. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner of his/her mistakes in the past, that will ruin your present happiness.
6. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present. (Aimed especially at our politicians)
7. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
8. Smile and laugh more.
9. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...
1. Call your family often.
2. Each day give something good to others.
3. Forgive everyone for everything.
4. Spend time with people over the age of 70, and under the age of 6.
5. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
6. What other people think of you is none of your business.
7. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
1. Do the right thing!
2. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or joyful.
3. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
4. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
5. The best is yet to come...
38. When you awake alive in the morning, thanks.