Psychic View: Being there

By Marjorie Young

One of the most difficult moments we face is the death of a loved one. However, it may prove equally challenging when not we, but someone we know, suffers the loss.

Recently, my friend ‘Sharon’ sought my advice. She’d learned her cousin (with whom she’d lost contact in recent years) had lost his college student daughter to an accident. Sharon was anxious to phone with condolences, yet uncertain how to proceed. I assured her that there existed no special formula for such moments ... all one needed to convey was sorrow and sympathy.

It is surprising how many recoil from dealing with the subject, usually out of a sense of awkwardness or fear. Of course, we cannot hope to erase another’s loss, but we can, by word or deed, always demonstrate our empathy, solidarity, and support.

While living in Japan, the wife of my English student, only in her thirties, succumbed to cancer after five years in remission. At the funeral, I met a number of her friends. Inquiring about the last time they’d seen ‘Keiko,’ they rather sheepishly confessed they had never once visited during her prolonged hospital stay. Taken aback, I’d asked why, since they’d known the seriousness nature of her condition. The response was always the same, “I didn’t know what to say!”

I can feel a measure of sympathy, perhaps. Clearly, a meeting under such circumstances might prove challenging, trying, and even awkward. However, what if the tables were turned…what if they had been slowly dying and none of their friends had made an effort to appear? Again, no ‘magic words’ are necessary. You can always take the lead from the sick person…do they openly desire to speak of approaching death? Do they prefer, instead, to laugh and enjoy each remaining moment to the fullest? There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to react. But we can choose to be there for them, in whatever measure they require.

Another factor causing many to shy away from death or a death-bed, is that it brings up unsettling fears involving our own fragile existence. Clearly, life ends for all at some point; yet, many seek to steadfastly deny the obvious. They prefer, ostrich-like, to endlessly ignore or suppress the topic, in an effort to make it ‘go away.’ Therefore, being forced to confront the inevitable makes it all the more traumatic. Yet our own fears should not serve as justification to ‘vanish’ when someone requires our support. We are not called upon to erase their pain…but simply to be present - lending compassion, comfort, and caring.

Not long ago, someone very dear to me lost his only sibling to a cancer which produced great suffering before his passing. When he called with the news, I told him the death was ‘a sorrow and a blessing.’ And I believe we are here to ‘bless’ one another with our presence, and to recognize that is always, in and of itself, enough.

I look forward to your comments and questions. Please email me at:

Marjorie is available for readings at the Ballard Sunday Market, her Ballard home, or by phone. Please visit her fantasy/adventure series website:

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