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Show up: (verb) to provide help and support


How do you help those you love when they need you, in their dark days?

Three people I care about have been diagnosed with cancer in the past week.

Another person I care about has worked hard for the past two years on a project, enduring great ups and downs, and designed something extraordinary, which is a gift to the world we inhabit. Only to find that his hard – voluntary – work could all be in vain due to bad weather potentially cancelling out his efforts.

In tough times, how can we express to others that we care? By showing up.

That’s what I need to do.

Through all of life’s busy-ness, we can get so distracted about what really matters as we go about our daily routines, attune to perceived stresses. Yet when faced with trauma or tragedy, we seem suddenly to be aware of what is really important in our lives, and we have time for listening, holding, touching, hearing, cooking, cleaning, childcare or helping. Our thinking settles and our wisdom is clear. Something about life’s most testing times breaks down barriers. Those of us who find it hard to surrender are suddenly open to support. Those who don’t usually want to seem intrusive, feel brave to get stuck in.

I remember when a dear friend of ours was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, Sim turned up on her doorstep every day for months with one of Sim’s passions – a homemade smoothie. We have them every day for breakfast so Sim made extra, or one especially for immune boosting or detoxing properties, for our friend. In a card to Sim, our friend wrote, ‘Thank you for showing up. So many wouldn’t, so many didn’t. When there are no words, what a difference it made to me by you just showing up’.

I’ve been fortunate to be on the receiving end of many a kind and generous act, prayer, shoulder or non-judgemental ear in my worst times. I’m grateful for how that felt, how that lifted me and Sim up, which reminds me now what matters most when we need to return the favour.

Sometimes at the worst times of our life, especially when we think we’re on our own, we are shown the best of the people who love us.

It raises the question: why don’t we show up for those we care about on the good days as well as the bad? Why does it take cancer, loss or an emergency to make us seize the day and reach out, or let go? It’s a beautiful thing to be our best for someone in need, the beauty of humanity is heart-warming and fills us up with the power of compassion and empathy to carry on. Although it makes me think: why do we only stop, or feel grateful for every moment, or look after our precious health, when some life or death event makes us?

What about if we just turn up, make time to listen, make a meal, make a financial gesture, write a card, send a text, offer a hug, say words of love or encouragement, throw a party, offer help and follow through, even if there’s initial resistance to receive it.

In our worst times, and in our finest hour.



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