Are You In Denial?
“He’s gone”, my mother sobbed over the phone as she notified me that my uncle, Dick, passed in his sleep while battling colon and liver cancer in the hospital. It was sad news, but not unexpected. Our family discovered that Dick was diagnosed with cancer a week earlier. Hospice was called and arrangements were made to make my uncle comfortable until the cancer took its toll.
My mother took on the burden of handling Dick’s estate and discovered that he knew for months that he had cancer, but never notified anyone, even though my mother talked to him regularly.
“It’s sad to think he suffered alone at home.” My mother whispered to me over the phone. Mom noted that his house was in disarray as he must have lacked the energy to maintain his home or even engage in the basic chores that life demands. He simply withered away until he couldn’t hide it any longer. Once we were notified of his condition, he was gone within a week. Why didn’t he tell his family about his disease?
It’s hard to discern his motives. Maybe he was embarrassed, or perhaps he didn’t want to burden us, or was he just in denial that the disease was slowly killing him? We discovered that he declined chemotherapy and so it was only a matter of time before the cancer won and he would draw his last breath. I’m not sure why Dick waited so long to allow his family into his reality, but I do believe denial probably played a part, why? Because I have experience with denial, as I’ve denied many aspects of my life over the years.
I denied the responsibilities of marriage in the beginning of my young married life. I denied my daughter when she was first born, I denied my sister’s death for the first few months. I’m in denial right now that my body may not endure the mileage necessary to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Denial is part of a defense mechanism to protect us from the realities of life, but in the end denial steals time, relationships, health, financial security, and long term success from our lives.
Are you in denial? Most likely, the answer is yes in some portion of your life. The bigger question is will you do anything about it? Whether it’s a physical issue, a relational issue, a financial issue, or a spiritual issue, denial will only hurt you and those close to you, so don’t allow it to poison your life. Is it time to face an issue in your life? Why wait? Break through the bonds of denial and allow yourself the chance to heal, make amends, or simply move on with your life. Whatever it is, face your issue today and break free from the chains of denial for good.
As for my uncle, Dick. He was a good man, and he will be missed. He slipped quietly into eternity as my Mom rushed to be by his side. Sadly, Dick slipped away before Mom could arrive at the hospital. Luckily, my uncle, Tom, and my nephew, Zach, were there with him when he passed. It was hard on my Mom, but she will move on, like she always does. The main thing is that we all continue to move on with our lives without denial being ever present. Don’t let denial rule your life and begin to allow your family and friends into your life’s issues so you can face them with strength and courage. Are you denying something in your life right now?