by Dianne May, president & CEO
One of my favorite authors, Louise Penny, recently wrote this: “my books, while clearly and happily [are] murder mysteries [they] are really about duality. The gap between what is said and what is felt. The public face and the inner truth.”
The gap between what is said and what is felt. How often have you felt trapped in that place? Wanting to have an honest and authentic conversation with someone, but worried about how he or she might react. It’s scary to set aside social conventions and expectations in order to share deeply personal thoughts and feelings. What if the listener is uncomfortable? What if I can’t find the words I need?
Maybe you’ve been the person waiting for another to open up and share. You sense there is more to be said, but you don’t want to force your loved one to talk if she is not ready. The truth is she might be waiting for a sign from you that it is okay to share her feelings.
Some people need time to prepare for conversations and some need only the right time or place. Humor might make it easier for him to start a conversation. And a simple question might provide the right opening for her. However we find the way to traverse the gap between our public faces and inner truths, sharing our true feelings with people whom we love and who love us, is a good thing. Is there a gap you want to cross?
by Gail Hamm, program director
Sitting with a client or family member who is expressing deep emotion can be uncomfortable. But it is equally uncomfortable for the person who is opening her heart and expressing her deepest feelings. Cancer Services’ advocates experience this opportunity on a daily basis. I say opportunity, because it is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to actively listen and not have to offer advice or solutions; an opportunity to share sacred space with another human being.
What do you say to a man who has just told you that he has two months to live? What do you say to a mother who has just told you that her daughter will never see her sixth birthday? Advocates do not take this responsibility lightly. They realize the sacredness of the moment. It is all about being. Being present, being thoughtful, being in a listening mode. It is not necessarily about doing.
Care and compassion, empathy and acceptance…..being with our clients and their families is the greatest gift Cancer Services’ advocates can give.