What happens when friends, acquaintances, just about anyone you know learns you’re sick? Or that a family member has died? Or another tragedy has struck?
If you’re like most recipients of others’ concern, phones ring, get well and/or sympathy cards arrive, and in some cases you’re deluged with an outpouring of heartfelt support, along with expressions of prayers and thoughts.
Offers of foods, transportation, whatever, can be overwhelming. In some cases there is a cascade of casseroles.
What happens a few weeks later? “Thoughts and prayers” fade to radio silence. Written expressions of sympathy slow to a trickle and then to dry up.
Life returns to normal. The survivor of a loved one’s death or of a serious illness is expected to “be over it.”
In the media this is called “the news hole.” As soon as one momentous event is overshadowed by a newer one, the first drops out of sight into the “news hole.”
Same with sympathy. Its half-life is a few weeks at best. Then zap! It’s disappeared.
But what if the survivor or the patient doesn’t recover? What if the loss is so great it has permanently scarred the survivor? Or a patient’s illness worsens, or is terminal? What then?
The sympathy curve has completed its cycle. Obligatory expressions of concern may crop up if we happen to physically encounter the survivor or the patient. Otherwise, nothing.
Maybe it behooves us to keep the survivor in our thoughts and prayers a little longer. Continue offers of support. Don’t take the survivor’s bravado at face value, but genuinely CHECK IN.
Some people don’t recover. Their illness persists. Or the loss of a loved one is a permanent wound, a crippling psychological handicap, or morphs into a chronic (even terminal) condition.
Let’s stop taking “she’ll-get-over-it-itus” for granted.
Check in. Make that call. Send that text. Be present.