By Caitlin Kelly
Had a conversation this week with a friend facing some serious health stuff. She’s not getting the support she needs and someone who should be there for her is instead adding to her very considerable stress by not being useful and making needed changes.
No one wants a backpack filled with stones.
I won’t be more specific but it was clear to me — as someone who’s had health issues (that oh-so-American euphemism for cancer) since June 2018 — that the minute you get a shitty diagnosis (or lose your job or face the loss of a loved one), your life is now weighted down in ways that may appear invisible to others but are very, very heavy and something you (mostly) alone are carrying.
Shame — especially in the U.S. where being “unproductive”, ill and needy is somehow taboo — adds yet another damn boulder.
Unless you can drop the backpack — and ask for help and count on getting it — having to listen to anything stupid, thoughtless or callous (and there’s plenty of it out there, from friends, family and medical staff) only adds another few stones.
No one wants that pack.
No one wants to carry it, sometimes for months or even years.
In tough times, their pack is already filled with grief and fear and physical pain and exhaustion and guilt and anxiety.
Carrying it isn’t much of a choice, even as others call you “brave” and “tough” and call out “you can fight this.”
If you know someone facing tough times, please do anything you possibly can to lighten their load.
Diminish that pack.
Do not add one more stone.