The Gift of Listening

When you’re caring for a child with cancer, talking with others who understand can be invaluable. CaringBridge has partnered with The Mighty to create a public group that is also a safe space for parents of children with cancer to find support, connection and resources along their family’s health journey.

Mary Farr leads the group with compassion, care and knowledge that comes from her years of experience as chaplain of Children’s Minnesota. Her insightful words are a light during dark times, fostering community and connection during what can be an isolating period.

Her posts cover a range of topics: healing and coping tools, wisdom from kids and pets, how to talk with your child about cancer, the goal of joy, and why, sometimes, you just need a break.

Below are her thoughts on the healing power of simply listening.

“Everyone wants to be heard. Everyone wants to be validated. Each of our lives matters, as do our wishes and dreams. This includes every parent, caregiver, and child on the receiving end of care. Yet often, listening gets canceled out by our own talking and advising.

Attentive silence can uncover the real needs of another, needs that we might miss in our efforts to share our opinions or instruction. This was the case when I visited an elderly woman who had just received a cancer diagnosis. Though she requested a chaplain visit, she greeted me with stony silence. My efforts to start a conversation went nowhere. Finally, knowing that she lived on a farm, I thought just maybe she had a vegetable garden. So, I simply asked her if she canned.

That unadorned question and my waiting for an answer, revealed her real concern, one that she hadn’t even shared with her doctor or nursing staff. Not only did she can and preserve fruits and vegetables for her family, she packed lunches every day for all five of her children, then walked them to the school bus stop. Afterall, it wasn’t her illness she wanted to talk about. Her need was to tell me of her commitment to lovingly caring for her children.

That brief encounter has served as a reminder that it is impossible to listen until we stop talking. I would even suggest that we caregivers learn to never miss an opportunity to keep our mouths shut. Whether it’s a nurse who places a cool cloth on the forehead of a mother who has miscarried her baby, or a friend who makes room in her busy day for another whose marriage has failed listening offers us a powerful healing tool.”

In addition to Mary’s insights, you’ll meet people who also find themselves on an unexpected health journey with their loved one, creating a community where healing happens.

Pictured is the Kruciak family, whose story is part of our How We Heal series.

Start a CaringBridge Site

When you’re going through a health journey, you have a lot on your plate. CaringBridge replaces the time-consuming task of sharing your health news over and over. It’s a free, easy to use online journal for sharing health information with your family and friends.  

Don’t go through your health journey alone.

You can stay connected to friends and family, plan and coordinate meals, and experience love from any distance.

All of this is ready for you when you start your personal CaringBridge site, which is completely free of charge, ad-free, private and secure. Don’t spend another minute alone!