When you have troubling news to share who do you call? How do people know that you’re in need? This past week I learned that the son of a colleague had been murdered and I received word from numerous people. What surprised me the most is the emphasis everyone put on the fact that my colleague is a very private person and we should all respect that about her.
It made me think about what do people know about our lives. I didn’t even know she had children much less three children and all adults. I never would have thought to ask her about her kids because in my presence she never referenced them. It’s amazing what we keep under wraps and aren’t even conscious of the omission.
There’s another type of privacy that boggles my mind. A few years ago my uncle was diagnosed with melanoma. After the initial surgery when the whole family called to lend our support we were provided a dictum not to contact him. He didn’t want to deal with all of us and yet knowing my family as I do we’re the furthest thing from intrusive. I was insulted at the time because I know the impact that isolation can have on your mental and physical well-being. Working with individuals and families facing a life-altering illness for the past twenty years I know that people come in all temperments, but if you don’t include people how do you rally the troops when you will need them.
I’m not saying that you have to form a friends and family committee for every medical decision or treatment. I am requesting that you keep people in your life informed by whatever means you feel comfortable. I know clients who have set up websites or blogs to keep people in the loop. Everyone is grateful for the opportunity to be in-the-know without having to be intrusive. Others have put a message on their answering service with an update so the family doesn’t have to answer the phone (especially in this age of caller ID) and people are still in the loop.
It’s much harder to rally the troops if the troops have left for another camp. Don’t leave yourself out in the cold…keep people involved in your life because there will come a day when we’ll need them.