The Sacred Art of Caring for Others

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There are times in life that change us forever.

September 2022 was one of those for me, when I received the news that my best friend had been diagnosed with Stage 4 rectal cancer.

The moment I heard the news, I checked my weekend schedule. My daughter had a soccer game, but my friend has a daughter of a similar age, so we planned to head out there immediately afterwards. I stocked the car at Trader Joe’s with groceries, plants and flowers, and we set off, still trying to make sense of her news. 

Words are inadequate at times like this. When we arrived, I simply sat on the couch with her and cried. We live a 3-hour drive apart (without traffic) but I committed that day to see her once a month, and to be a part of her care for however long she needed me.

The next year and a half was grueling. 

Treatments seemed to be endless. Each one failed. Surgeries were excruciating and eventually she became too weak to recover from their debilitating effects. We celebrated her 50th birthday at her bedside in a beach house, with friends and family visiting throughout the week. 

Why am I telling you this? 

Because I want you to remember that, in the end, connection, love and meaning are what really matter. And I want you to know that everything I did for my friend, making the commitment to care for her, I consider a privilege. 

It was a privilege to care for someone in the darkest time of their life. Yes, it was tiring. I gave up events, kids’ sports, and personal obligations. I didn’t blog much  (as you know). Through it all, the hardest part by far was the pain that I felt watching a person that I dearly love go through so much pain. 

And there was nothing I could do. 

But we also laughed together. We were silly together. I made her ice cream because she never stopped loving her favorite dessert. She hated my portion sizes and always demanded more scoops. She snuck sips of wine from my glass. We drove to Malibu to watch dolphins swim. We went Christmas shopping then ditched out to head to our favorite spot for lunch.  

We were honest about our feelings. 

I told her what she meant to me. I told her how much she is loved. I told her how her friendship has shaped my life for over 25 years. She was there for me even while she struggled with powerful medicines to treat her illness.  

She was one of a kind, in all the best ways.  

She had a unique, magical ability to make you feel like you were the most important person in the world when you spent time with her. Because she was genuinely interested in you. She saw you. It is a rare gift. 

When people told me I was a great friend through her illness I would respond that there was no possible way I could ever do enough to even out our friendship. 

That’s who she was to me. Who she always will be. 

Connection, love and meaning

Life is a lot of things. We chase fun, beach days, margaritas, brunch – and I will always say go for it in moderation. But at the end of the day what matters most is connection, love and meaning. And with those 3 things come responsibility.

Connection takes time. Love means treating someone as well as you treat yourself (and maybe learning how to treat yourself well but that is a whole other blog). 

Meaning is the gift we receive for investing those 2 things.  

Living life solely for yourself is a recipe for misery. And truth be told, those who do miss out on so much. Because the acts of connection and love which ultimately give you the gift of meaning far outweigh the labor of focusing only on yourself. 

Life is about love and relationship and that means it will also eventually be about pain and loss. But in that we may be called upon to care for those we love.  And that is a sacred act.

If you get the chance to care for someone you love, don’t hesitate. Do it. Balance it with your own responsibilities, do what you can to make it feel good….I once had a trainer say to me that anytime you can enjoy giving, do it. It benefits both of you. On my regular care visits to my friend, we always planned something memorable, a special dinner, a fun TV show, a drive to the beach to watch the sunset. 

Being with someone facing sickness or death is an amazing lesson. What mattered to my friend at the end was being around those that truly loved her. The rest was noise. 

Maybe that is a lesson for all of us.

Surround yourself with those who you love and who love you. Remember no one, not one of us, is perfect, and that includes you – and me! Most of us are simply trying to do our best. No one person can do it all but everyone can do some. So be gentle with those around you who try. 

Surround yourself with those who love you and let the rest be noise.  

And take the time to care for your loved ones who need you. 

Connection, Love and Meaning are all that truly matter in life. 

Don’t miss out on them. 

XO, Nicole



Nicole C Weiss LCSW

Nicole WeissThe Sacred Art of Caring for Others

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