My “Afterlife” Series ~ THINKING OF YOU

By Susan Keats, Contributor &  Seize-the-Day Propagandist

An old friend of mine recently chopped her finger off.

It wasn’t intentional and it wasn’t her whole finger, but it was a nice chunk. She was trimming plants in her garden and trimmed her thumb right off along with a stem. Ugh! It must have been awful!

This happened while I was still undergoing treatment and feeling pretty sick myself. She and I had not been in touch for a long time, but when I heard about it I sent her an email expressing how surprised and sorry I was to hear of her finger situation. I asked if she was ok? Could I help? She wrote back immediately. Am I ok? What about you? How can I help YOU?

People like helping. I like helping too. Even if you are living in your own help-worthy situation, it still feels good to offer to be of help to another person. When I was still sick, people liked to help me, which at times caught me off guard, but always made me feel grateful.

People sent cards and emails saying “thinking of you” and that felt good. You never really know if people are thinking about you much, and now I can say for sure that people do think about you when you need them and it truly helps to make you feel better.

The interesting part is that a person’s simple and kind statement of “I’m thinking about you” makes you think about them. I marveled at my good fortune to know so many wonderful people who took me to chemo, sent me cards, cupcakes, books, magazines, bandannas, cooked soup and blueberry muffins, all left quietly at my door.

Every time I find out that someone has been “thinking of me,” my heart feels warm, my throat tightens with happy appreciation. I am still so grateful.

I spend a whole lot of time thinking about these people, wondering over the time they have taken to let me know they are there for me. The connectedness I feel to every one of these people still remains with me. I realize how together we all are in this world. There must be something in our interconnectedness that not only causes us to feel good, but also helps to make us well.

I’m telling you about all of this because when a friend is in a tough situation, maybe a divorce, a sick parent, or any kind of crisis, we don’t always know what to do. So for starters, here is my advice: Simply let your friend know that you are thinking about them. Send a card, drop off a magazine, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that you care and your friend feels it and that is a huge step towards helping your friend.

My finger-pruning friend surprised me when she rang my bell with a stitched up, numb thumb. She was carrying a large white paper bag filled with 2 tubs of homemade pasta sauce, pasta (both cooked and uncooked), flowers, salad and home made cookies. Wow what a feast! And I didn’t have to even think about dinner. It is amazing to me that someone who has been through her own situation has taken so much time to think about helping me.

Now, there is someone you know who needs you. Go find a way to tell them that they are in your thoughts.

In 2010 Susan Keats received life-changing news after a routine mammogram. She had breast cancer. After plenty of tears, anxiety and soul searching, she finished treatments and is now entering a year of renewal, growth, and recovery. Susan hopes that those who are just stepping into the experience of illnesses or crises will find the same comfort and inspiration that she felt when others shared their experiences and wisdom with her. She is looking forward to rediscovering parts of herself that she had allowed to fall away. This is going to be a great year!

Please leave comments telling me what kind things people have done for you that have left you feeling grateful?

Go here to follow all of Susan’s posts in her Afterlife Series!
Susan-KeatsSusan Keats ~ In 2010 Susan received life-changing news after a routine mammogram. She had breast cancer. After plenty of tears, anxiety and soul searching, she finished treatments and is now entering a year of renewal, growth, and recovery. Susan hopes that those who are just stepping into the experience of illnesses or crises will find the same comfort and inspiration that she felt when others shared their experiences and wisdom with her. She is looking forward to rediscovering parts of herself that she had allowed to fall away. This is going to be a great year!

12 Responses to My “Afterlife” Series ~ THINKING OF YOU

  1. Ohhhh, I am thinking of you, and thinking this is a wonderful entry. Keep the good words coming!

  2. Gloria B. says:

    Thank you for reminding me of the impact of simple words which mean so much at times of distress. It is too often that “I just don’t know what to say” takes the place of “I’m thinking about you”. One phrase places a huge “stone” in the pit of our stomach, and the other removes it quickly, leaving the pleasing sense of having done the right thing.
    Gloria B. March 22, 2012

  3. Ivan Lippitz says:

    It is a measure of a person’s humanity when they are able to think of doing for others while they are in the midst of a personal challenge.

    Our son was killed 32 years ago by a drugged driver. I feel touched when people remember our loss on the anniversary of his death. I try to remember the loss of significant others of our friends on those anniversaries.

  4. Susan says:

    Thank you Gloria. To say “I’m thinking about you” is much easier to say and does feel like the right thing, and is so simple. And Mr. Lippitz, I love what you wrote. You are right in saying that even far after an initial crises, that people are still remembering and thinking of you means so much. I wish I had added that to the story. Thank you for saying it.

  5. Judith Baron says:

    Makes me think I should keep another list on my phone along with Birthdays of Friends, of people who did something good for me or my family.
    So often I think, “I think I’ll call —- after I put this load in the dryer.” Then I forget.

    Lovely writing,Susan. Thank you

  6. LeAnita says:

    Sue-

    This is a wonderful piece.

    I do something for someone else every day- i.e., help others get closer to achieving their goals, connecting in a meaningful way to a homeless individual, helping my children be good citizens of the planet or gifting a friend with a piece of jewelry that I have designed to bring her joy.

    LeAnita
    3.22.12

  7. Ellen says:

    Thank you, Sue. Great advice. So often we (I!) do nothing because we don’t know what to do or worry about saying the wrong thing. Years ago after a friend’s husband died unexpectedly, she said, “It’s almost like he never existed. Everyone is afraid to mention Ron. It would help just to know that other people are thinking about him too.”

  8. nancy says:

    In my life lots of people have taught me to reach out and give support of my loved ones and friends. When my mother died recently, sympathy cards, a plant and phone calls really made me feel cared for. I don’t even know how else to describe this comfort. It is amazing when people come out of the woodwork when a loved one passes. When a cousin called to remember a story about my mom or a beloved neighbor reminded me of her memories it was comforting that my mom had, indeed, touched people in her life. I guess death is the great equalizer. You can’t take money or clothes or jewelry with you when you die. And loved ones are only left with their memories.
    Furthermore, I have been very lucky to have had good, sensible and loving friends my whole life. I appreciate everyone’s energy and love. In particular one friend named Debby has always taught by example to be supportive, genuine and to think of others. For her this came naturally. For me, I tried to aspire to her selflessness. What can I say. I like thinking of me! Over the years, after recieving a friendship card or a valentines card or a pick-me-up card, I learned to emmulate her behaviors and give my energy, love and support. She is a thoughtful person and I’m glad she is my teacher.

  9. Debbie S. says:

    I used to stay away from people who were experiencing, say, a very sick child or a dying parent. The problem was that I felt awkward, and also inadequate because I didn’t think I could offer any help. You are absolutely right, as I learned after I had been through the wringer a couple of times myself. Just reaching out and “being there” is an important gift, however it is expressed.

  10. The Succulent Wife says:

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments!

    And thank goodness that Susan emerged from her experience filled to the brim with insights and wisdom AND that she decided to share all that with us. If we listen carefully we can become better and more loving friends, neighbors and caregivers to sick friends and loved ones in our lives.

  11. Susan says:

    Thanks everyone for such wonderful insights. I think I’ll write about the “giver’s” perspective soon. If you have anything else to share about how it feels to you when you are helping out a friend, I’d like to hear about it.

  12. Papa DT says:

    sue, I had not read your most recent blog until now: I had reserved it for a later time, which, as it turns out, was very much later! Your blog is one of the most useful and touching of those I receive. By telling us of your deepest feelings you cause me to rethink some ideas
    that, even in my deep old age, continue to please or distress me. You are one of my heroes.

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