It is not enough to offer support and love in just the early days when someone passes away. Long after the casket is buried in the ground those who lose a loved one will need support because even though they know that joy will once again come, the night they are enduring is painful. After the funeral passes, the night continues for those who are mourning. And a family needs more than flowers sent. When someone loses a loved one they are encouraged by the support they receive in the early days. But they need support for months and even years because the night they are enduring is lengthy. Every birthday, holiday, anniversary is going to be incredibly painful for a person who lost a loved one. The mourning period doesn't end when the funeral is over. Years pass and a person still experiences pain. Their night is lengthy and the weeping will endure for awhile and they need the support of others.
It is not enough to offer support in just the early days of a cancer diagnosis. Long after the shock of the diagnosis wears off a family needs support because even though they know that joy will once again come and one day it will be morning, the night they are enduring is lengthy. The night continues for those who are facing hospital stays, tests and chemotherapy. In the early days of a diagnosis a family typically gets an overwhelming amount of support. But their life has been placed on hold for months and even years. The weeping they are enduring is painful. Each hospital stay is more difficult than the previous one. Each cycle of chemo produces side effects. Each test makes one wonder if the cancer has returned. And while a family may know that eventually morning is going to come and joy will return, the night they are enduring is lonely and they need the support of others.
Those who are enduring the most difficult time of their life need people who will be with them for the duration of their night. It is not enough to just ask a person how they are doing at church or when you see them at work. You may think that because they have a smile on their face they are strong and are holding it together. It is likely they are just putting on a facade and a mask. More than likely, if you are not sending them text messages or calling them during the week to ask them how they are doing, they are not going to share with you how painful the night is. They aren't going to share with you the lonely road they are enduring. They aren't going to tell you that their heart is broken in pieces. They aren't going to share with you the lack of strength they have. They won't tell you they feel depleted and worn out.
If you ask me how I am doing at church or at work, I will lie to you. I won't tell you that there are moments I feel like I am falling apart. I won't tell you that my heart is shattered in pieces because our plans have been put on hold. I won't tell you that it hurts because I feel as though my children have been robbed of childhood innocence because of the cancer diagnosis. I won't tell you that it is stressful knowing our expenses exceed our income. I won't tell you that this has been a lonely road we have had to take. I won't let you know that the night has been long and difficult and that the weeping has endured. I will tell you I am fine.
But it is an incredibly painful road that a person endures when cancer hits their home. It breaks my heart every time my kids ask why the germs aren't gone. I cry every night when my husband is in the hospital. It is exhausting trying to balance work, children and hospital visits. It is depleting to know that we have experienced almost 300 days since diagnosis and half of those days Mel has spent in the hospital. And while the initial visits and flowers sent uplifted us in the dark days after the diagnosis, the night has continued and the weeping has endured. And the support is needed now more than it was needed then. Because the road has been long, it has been exhausting. And the night has wore on.
It is not morning yet. A family who experiences the pain of losing a loved one or the pain of a cancer diagnosis needs people who will be with them for the long run. The initial support is not enough. They need text messages during the week. They need phone calls asking how they are holding on. They need hospital visits where even if you just sit in silence you are showing support. Invite a mourning spouse over for dinner. Send a grieving mom a note with your memories of their child. Take a child who lost their parent out for a fun day with your kids.
Eventually morning will return. Eventually the joy will come. But until that happens a person needs support during the weeping that endures during the night.