In case of emergency, do not call


Apologies for the delay in posting.  My current schedule creates some unhealthy gaps between meals and I have just been released (mostly) from battling a hunger headache.

Welcome to day 2 of what appears to be “Downer Week” here on the JMD blog.  Sorry, but my supply of optimism has to be reserved for family right now, so you’re stuck with what’s left.

Today’s Dad update is that he is not better than yesterday.  Some numbers have improved, others have gone the other direction, so we wait until tomorrow now for more testing.  Yummy.

Yesterday, I discussed the selfishness of worrying.  I’d like to explain to you what I mean by that concept.

For the most part, worrying (especially for illness) is most often practiced out of earshot of the party in question.  Te most obvious reason for this is to not subject the person trying to heal with our fears and concerns.  The other, less obvious, reason is that it is primarily about us.

Since our worrying can’t possibly be of any aid or help to the person who is ill, it stands to reason what we are really worrying about is how that person’s condition affects us.  The more severe the problem, the more extreme our self-immersion becomes.

This isn’t to say that the selfishness is a bad thing.  Often times, it is to the extent that we care about the person that we feel most affected.  But, especially in cases of extreme negative results (i.e., terminal), what we’re most mourning is not the years of life the person has lost but the years of life we lose spending time with that person.  In other words, we mourn our own loss more.

It’s a pretty natural response, especially in terminal situations, even if the most likely desire of the person in question is that we all live a life unburdened by sorrow.  It’s extremely unlikely that whoever passes from our lives wants to be the cause of that sorrow.

The problem lies with that natural need to seek comfort during the time of the trials.  As we (basically) helplessly wait for the resolution of the situation (hopefully happily), we ache.  When the ache crosses over to worry, we tend to reach out.  Which is essentially selfish.

Let me give an example.  I call a friend and during the course of conversation I relate what’s going on with my Dad.  That’s fair, right?  It’s my friend; they want to know how I’m doing.  The friend offers sympathy, perhaps even empathy if they have experienced the same thing.  The friend now hangs up burdened by both the sad knowledge of the struggle and the fact that there is nothing they can do to help.

Sure, you can say they listened and coin the phrase “pain shared is pain eased”, but you could also step back and say “Gosh, I just threw my pain on someone and gave nothing back in return”.  Doesn’t that seem a bit selfish?

Yes, that’s a bit black and white and I slanted the argument in my favor to make a point, but it’s a point that doesn’t otherwise get considered in the guise of “informing” others.

That’s why I make sure that if I talk to anyone about Dad, my whole focus is on his healing and eventual release from the hospital.  If I am committed to not worrying, I refuse to allow others to worry on my behalf.  As a related condition, I refuse to call everyone I know to tell them about Dad’s situation.  If I do that, I will look awfully foolish when Dad gets out of the hospital all better.  Chicken Little much?

So I think it’s best for everyone if I keep the calls to a minimum.

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