House on Fire


When we are confronted with a potentially fatal diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one, we can find ourselves caught up in endless cycle of "why."

"Why is this happening now?"

"Why is God doing this to me?"

"Why didn't I see this coming?"

"Why didn't I (he/she) go to the doctor sooner?"

Recently, the analogy came to me that a serious illness diagnosis is like a house on fire. If you arrive home to see your house in flames, you don't ask, "Why is my house burning?" You accept the fact your house is on fire, make sure everyone is safe and call the fire department. Later, if a neighbor or friend offers you a place to stay overnight, you graciously accept.

From my experiences being my wife's caregiver, this is a good way to deal with your own or a loved one's serious illness. First, don't get stuck in questioning why this is happening to you. Instead, accept the reality of what you're confronting! Next, get the best medical help available to treat the illness. Finally, accept your family and neighbors' offers to help or ask for what you need.

Accepting what is and taking care of yourself are the two best bits of advice I can offer.

Coy Cross, PhD, spent years questioning the role of faith in his life. But when his beloved wife, Carol, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it was the lessons of Rev. Carol Ruth Knox that helped him accept his role as a male caregiver. Coy has chronicled his caregiving and spiritual paths in the book, “The Dhance: A Caregiver’s Search for Meaning.”

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Very well said! :)
the same can be said about a mental health diagnosis, a serious one. before my mother was officially told by a psychiatrist her thinking is not normal, she was constantly hitting me over the head with a two by four about mundane concerns. i kept saying to her, when the house is on fire this is not the time to be worried about trivial matters. she now appears to be on the same page, since her doctor told her point blank what's going on. often they seem to think the family is not being honest with them for some reason. i really don't get this. usually in the end family are the only ones you can count on, and it's just one or two of them at the most. the day i see my mother's big shot lawyer or fat butt accountant at the front door offering to help is the day i believe anyone really cares about my mother besides me. none of the so called neighbors friends family or professionals even call here any more. the house truly is on fire, and no one cares.
This is so true. You can't wish it away. I moved in with my mother to keep her safe. The one good thing was she suffered from OCD. She got her daily exercise by going around the house. Checking the stove, doors, sinks etc. Also, she was never left alone. I got to the point after a few Cellulitis of the abdomen and foot. I would set the table with a cup and saucer in the upper corner of her plate in the morning. I observed to many mornings with a mug on the edge of the table. I knew it was going to fall right onto her lap. Also, I had to take the handle of the shut on/off valve in the bathtub off to keep her safe. I had to anticipate the things she would do. To keep her safe.