Enjoy friends and life while you can

This has been a week of bad news. One friend reported that her brother had a massive stroke, will need long-term intensive care and no longer recognizes members of his family. The son of another friend sent an announcement that his father had reached an advanced stage of liver cancer, a surprise to everyone who knew him and, I believe, to him as well.  Another friend’s brother was in the hospital, diagnosis as yet undetermined.

As we age, bad news, especially of friends who are ailing, will come more frequently, though I hope not at the rate of two announcements a week. How do we respond when the bad news comes? I’m not talking about what we might do to support our friends and their families, but how do we handle a spate of bad news ourselves.  As much as we’d like to deny it, when someone we know is seriously ill, we’re reminded that our own lives are  no more permanent than bubbles in a stream.

I can think of only one useful strategy to adopt before the sad news arrives: spend time with friends and family, and enjoy them and our lives while we can.  Today I cooked posole for two friends. This dish is made of pork, hominy, chiles, onions and garlic, various spices, garnished with cabbage, cilantro and lime.  My friends brought tortillas and a mouth-watering dessert that contained more calories than I’d dare count.  We talked and laughed for three hours.  The subject of friends who are suffering was part of our conversation, a topic that’s easier to confront when you’re in the company of others.

In his blog zenhabits.net, Leo Babuta says, “When we connect with other humans, we are no longer alone. We share our suffering, our experiences, our common trials. The misery we face is no longer insurmountable when we have someone to face it with us.” That advice is doubly helpful on a rainy winter day in a week of bad news.

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About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness.
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4 Responses to Enjoy friends and life while you can

  1. Beth says:

    You are so right, Ann. After I lost my husband over 12 years ago and my first grandbaby 7 years ago, the way I look at life is totally different than it was prior to that time. Things that seemed so BIG and earth-shattering prior to that time took on a less dramatic place in my heart and mind. I live my life now “in the moment” and appreciate everyone and everything in my circle of caring, trying to live more thoughtfully and with more intention, not taking anything or anyone for granted. My family and friends are my “pillars of strength,” and the laughs, sharing, crying together are an irreplaceable energy source and gift in my life. I am thinking of you. There are, for sure, too many of those “weeks of bad news,” but you have many friends and loved ones who will be there to go through it with you.

  2. Claudia says:

    I enjoy every minute I shared with Greg and you, I learn so much of you and you philosophy of life you became in all means my mentor you have influence my life in so many ways , what I admired the most of you is your sense of humor and genuinity you are an inspiration for the people around you, even without realizing it you are still are making an impact in the people that happend to be in your path, now you are taking over the world by this blog (we have to be gratfull with the internet for that!:;)
    You are sharing the best of you,wisdom and joy, God Bless you and ,it is my honor to be at your table .
    Y espero que mi ingles algun dia sea tan bueno como tu espanol, gracias por ensenarme tanto de la vida,te quiere mucho , la rojilla!

  3. A slightly different take, although I think we are basically saying the same thing. When the world is looking bleak and I’m operating from the bottom of the barrel, I try to look around and see who I can help. It has the very practical effect of getting my thoughts off of me and my troubles and out into the big wide world. It puts things into perspective. Accomplishing a concrete task releases all those good endorphins into the bloodstream. And through association it’s a really good reminder of the many kind people who also inhabit the planet. Volunteerism is often acquainted with altruism, but I think the biggest beneficiary of volunteer work is really me.

    I like your phrase about our lives being as impermanent as “bubbles in a stream.” When I was first divorced and coping alone with two small children and unemployment, that was exactly the metaphor that I carried with me. If one can simply bob along, and not try to cling to the past or possessions or previous expectations or even relationships, it can be a very useful vision during truly difficult times. And I always had a sense that I would eventually find safe harbor.

    I love your blog, Ann! Time for me to crawl into bed!

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