Just Try To Reach Out

LOS ANGELES — For those who have stood in these shoes, no explanation is necessary.

For those who haven’t stood in these shoes, no explanation suffices.

Someone who, or whose wife or husband, is initially confronted with a challenge that might somehow, sometime become life threatening, probably doesn’t just wake up one day and realize that one, or one’s wife or husband, isn’t going to make it.

The dawning of such a realization, if it even comes, can take a long time.

And it may well not even come to that.

In other words, the challenge may well never get beyond, or far beyond, the “might somehow, sometime” stage.

If that’s so, that’s obviously a really, really good thing.

So upon initially confronting such a challenge, the prospect of one’s, or one’s wife or husband’s, passing from earthly life to eternal life may well be nothing more than an abstract, hypothetical unlikelihood.

Progress in confronting such a challenge can ebb and flow, even if such a prospect becomes more than abstract, hypothetical, or unlikely.

Even if such a prospect becomes more than abstract, hypothetical, or unlikely, it’s important to remember that many people have made it through similar challenges.

Even if a miracle might somehow, sometime be necessary, miracles can happen.

As one friend who had survived a life-threatening illness said to this columnist, “You must never give up hope.”

One difficulty for those who know someone who, or whose wife or husband is, confronting a health challenge of whatever magnitude can be that they’re not quite sure what to say or do.

It’s okay to be unsure.

Saying or doing the perfect thing isn’t required.

Yet sometimes out of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing, people say and do nothing.

Which – think about it – can be worse than saying or doing the wrong thing.

So try reaching out.

Dial the phone.

Someone who, or whose wife or husband, is confronting such a challenge may or may not want to talk about the challenge itself at that time. If not, the conversation may turn to other topics. That can help too.

If you can, offer to do something specific.

When one receives a general “let me know how I can help” offer, it can be hard to think of something. Or it can be easy to think that what one really needs is asking too much.

But an offer to do something specific may be accepted.

So maybe offer to come by for a visit, bring food, go to the store, mow the lawn, water flowers, pull weeds, rake leaves, shovel the driveway, walk the dog, take someone to appointments, or go along to a house of worship.

Be assured that unless you’ve stood in the shoes of either half of the couple, you’re hardly alone in not fully understanding what each half of the couple is going through.

In fact, the wife or husband who is ill can’t fully understand what it’s like for the other half of the couple. And the other half surely can’t fully understand what it’s like for the ill wife or husband.

Even though you don’t fully understand, you can still reach out.

And don’t let fear that you’ll say or do the wrong thing prevent saying or doing anything.

It’s okay not to understand.

It really, really is okay not to understand.

Just try to reach out.

Randy Elf is among many who understand.



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