Question: Dear Luise: My best friend is in the final staged of dying of cancer. She is in a Hospice Hospital that is about 100 miles from where I live, round trip. I am going tomorrow but can’t be there much due to the distance and my obligations at home. My problem is that I just don’t know how to be with this. On one hand, I am glad that she will soon cross over because she is unresponsive. On the other hand, I can’t imagine life without her in it because she’s been my best friend for over 45 years. I have never been a crier so I don’t have that outlet. I tear-up sometimes but that’s about it. I feel I am open to experiencing this but I don’t know what to expect or how to be. I have been calling her every night for almost two years, so she could express what she was going through and feel she wasn’t alone. (She has no living relatives.) We have very different belief system, spiritually. Well, we are very different…period. I don’t even know what I’m asking. I guess I wonder if I am doing it right. W.
Answer: Dear W.: We are all so different. I’m sure that whatever we do is right for each and every one of us. I mean that. Death brings us to the edge and all we can do is our best.
It’s not so much what you do or don’t do, as it is how you feel. It sounds to me like the bottom line is about the long, long friendship between you and your friend. If so, it is love that has held you together and it will be love that gets you through this. When she is gone…you will find that the love is still present. It doesn’t have a “shelf-life” like we do.
The healthiest thing I know of is to honor whatever your thoughts and feelings are as you go through this. You don’t have to cry to care. She is going through the process of dying, and you are in a process of your own. Honor whatever comes up…grief, of course, but also funny memories, anger at being abandoned…even wondering if she left you anything. Let every thought be worthy of your consideration and every feeling be authentic and revered.
Does it seem to you that you are still walking together, even though the phone calls have ceased? If so, talk to her in your mind if that feels right and talk to her when you visit. Do whatever feels natural.
There is no manual…no “Death 101” course that you can take. Be kind to yourself. You have been through it before and you will go through it again…and one day others will go through it with and for you. It’s a “learn as you go” process and you’re doing just fine. Blessings, Luise