If you go back a few posts to the one titled diversity, you will see that I finish with the comment that “ignorance is not bliss, it’s just plain ignorance.” I would like to build on that by discussing how we treat people with illness. It is important that we teach our children to be compassionate to others in many ways but when it comes to illness it is important that they do not judge others because each individual responds differently to their illness.
Some people are stoic and will tell you all is fine while they are dying in front of you. Others will complain about every ache and pain to anyone who will listen. While we do not want to encourage people to exploit the situation we must first take the time to understand their situation. This means that if a person is important in your life, taking the time to learn about the specific illness they are dealing with and how it is affecting them will help you to help them. If we continue to be uninformed about the illness or assume we know how they should be responding, we run the risk of the classic break down of ASS U ME.
So, as to not make an ass out of you and me, take the time to learn about symptoms. Ask questions in a way that allows the person to know that you are concerned and want to gain an understanding of how they are experiencing their own personal fight with the issues facing them. This is not a fancy concept it is old fashioned compassion. If we model this behavior our children will grow to be compassionate people. This is a good quality to aspire for in our children as it will perpetuate the kinder side of life. As we know, life can be unkind and nasty at times. If we can work to offer this level of kindness for people around us with illness, who knows, it may spread to other areas of life and our world will be a kinder place.
As always none of us is as smart as all of us and I welcome input to this discussion.