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facing into fear

A few of us are planning a get-together for a university classmate who’s living with end-stage cancer. Someone expressed anxiety about seeing her old friend under these circumstances. I wrote to her (edited version):


“Dear S., i read your note about hesitating to see M. After serving hospice patients and caregivers for a while now, I find that it’s absolutely normal for us “healthy ones” to avoid or dance around the issue of death. Our fears are deeply seated; the ego resists thoughts of its own demise. Yet the designated “dying ones” have their own work to do, their own coming-to-terms-with and preparing for onward travel. Our presence, in all its forms, is especially important during these times: for ourselves and for each other. We’re alive until we’re dead … dying is not contagious, nor is terminal cancer. Each day my lived experience alerts me to the gifts people in M’s situation hold for us. So, have courage (courage = with heart).”


Her reply: “Thanks for your thoughts. Your advice is welcomed. I am not hesitating so much to see her, as worried about keeping my emotions in check, but I am sure what happens between us will be just fine, and I know how important it is for both of us that I go.”



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