Loving Silence

Dr. Rick Wirtz Health Guide
  • I hope you’ll forgive me for being so serious but, as you may know from last week’s blog, a wonderful woman in our community lost her battle with cancer less than two weeks ago and it has stirred up a lot for me personally. Having lost my first wife to breast cancer 16 years ago, I found a lot of similarities in the experiences of my wife and this woman, as well as in the experiences of her husband and me. What I have found myself thinking a lot about is communication between cancer patients and the people they love. In particular, all of the thoughts and feelings that often go unsaid.

    When I look back on those last months of my first wife’s life, I am struck by how little we actually talked about what was happening and what came next. We both knew but we simply didn’t want to say it out loud because we thought it would be too painful. In our own ways we thought that we were protecting each other, and that’s probably true to some extent. Unfortunately, we probably made ourselves feel lonelier by trying to avoid feeling sad.
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    By talking about death it seems that some people think they are abandoning hope, but I don’t think that has to be true. By sharing our love for one another and speaking of our dreams and wishes we give ourselves the opportunity to say out loud some of the things that we probably should have been saying to one another all along. Even if a recovery or remarkable improvement took place, would anyone be angry or upset that they said how they felt or what they wished for? I don’t think so.

    It also seems very clear that it is much harder to say goodbye when you don’t really want to leave. That’s how I think about what didn’t get said between my wife and I, and I think that may have happened for my friend. You can’t really fault anyone in that scenario because the silence communicates the love felt and the wish not to leave or be left.

    Saturday, I’ll be walking in the Komen/Maryland Race for the Cure in Baltimore. I’ll talk to my sister in laws about it and let you know what they think.
Published On: October 20, 2006