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Don't Say Sorry (It's Not Your Fault)

John is a poet, short fiction, and freelance writer who also trained in home ministry and Bible study.


In Life and Death.

First let me just say, this poem is not about me. I have not been told by the doctor that I have some in curable disease and only a limited time to live. This is not my goodbye message to you my Hubber friends, so please breath a sigh of relief.

What inspired me to write a poem on such a depressing subject you may ask?

Well, my wife and I were at a craft group we attend twice a month and the conversation among the group turned to funeral insurance and whether it was a good idea. One thing led to another and the subject of death came up. The question was asked, "If you were told you had a terminal illness that wasn't immediately obvious, would you tell everyone you knew or keep it quiet for as long as possible?"

One woman, who is widowed, said her husband only told her and their children that he had cancer. He made them promise not to tell anyone else until the very last. He didn't want people to start treating him differently or feeling sorry for him. They respected his wishes until he had to leave work due to his illness when it was impossible to hide it.

She said that after the fist couple of weeks of people phoning or coming around to say they were "sorry", his friends just stopped coming. They felt uncomfortable and didn't know what to say. His fears were founded. He just wanted to be treated the same way he always had and talk about football, car racing and the like. Instead he was treated like a leper, as if his condition was catching.

My wife had recently gone through a similar situation with her younger sister unexpectedly being diagnosed with a brain tumour and only being given a month to live. She had an operation to remove most of the tumour, but it was only to give her an extra few weeks to say her goodbyes.

The operation took away her long term memory, and she couldn't remember any bad things from her past. This may a good way to be for your last few weeks on Earth, but it was also an opportunity for people who had treated her badly or not spoken to her for years to come and say goodbye without having to apologise for their past actions...because she couldn't remember! The one's who should have said sorry...never had to.

Although we don't really know how we'd feel until we are in this situation, the general consensus was that we would all prefer to keep it quiet except within our immediate families for as long as possible. My wife said she didn't want people saying "sorry" to her, when they hadn't done anything wrong and her condition wasn't their fault. I agreed as did most others that we didn't want to be treated differently and pitied if we were dying. In that situation you want your thoughts to be distracted from your condition and to talk about good times and more pleasant things.

The following poem is the result of that conversation.


Don't Say Sorry.

There is something

I need to say,

Please don't treat me

any other way.

The doctor called me

up last week.

"Please come and see me,

we need to speak."

"Your test came back,"

he said, so sad,

"Sir, you have cancer

and the prognosis is bad."

His serious tone

hit me like a brick.

This couldn't be happening,

I didn't feel sick.

I sat there in silence,

then managed to speak,

"How long have I got,

A month, or a week?"


It's hard to determine,

it's a matter of chance.

You may have a year,

but it's very advanced.

I told all my family,

they took it quite bad.

I tried to act positive,

because they were so sad.

I'm still the same person

you've laughed with, and cried,

so show me respect,

I haven't yet died.

I've come to accept it,

it's useless to worry.

But all that I ask,

is please don't say sorry.

This song uses the words "Don't Say You're Sorry" in a different context, but powerfully all the same.


© 2014 John Hansen


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on October 04, 2019:

Thank you for reading this Brenda and for you in-depth and intelligent comment. I, myself, find that the first thing I think of saying to someone who has received an unfortunate diagnosis like this is, "I am sorry." Now, I have trained myself to bite my tongue and try to find more positive things to say. You are right, that God is often capable of performing healing even when the doctors have given up hope. So, we should never give up. Blessings to you.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on October 04, 2019:

This poem is down to earth...touches upon the true core of how a person feels.

I think in the beginning one tries hard to keep it to themselves, unless someone else was there at the time of receiving the news.

Eventually one can open up and let God work through him.

The problem being...when people hear this sort of diagnosis...their minds automatically jump to the "oh, no...I am sorry." They seem to think the worse before ever really thinking about God being able to perform a healing and asking for prayers.

A person who is living a life with this sort of diagnosis does not need or want any negativity in his life or around him.

Only positive thoughts are helpful.

A terrific job on this one, John.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 21, 2019:

Steve, thanks for reading another of my articles/poems. It isn't an easy time to deal with.

Steve Tyson from Byron Bay, Australia on September 20, 2019:

Interesting question John, no easy answer. Lovely approach with the poem to convey that..

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 30, 2019:

Thank you for reading or rereading this piece, Shauna, whatever the case. Please accept my condolences in regard to your dad’s passing as well, and for sharing that story. It seems that a dying loved one’s major reason for not telling family is that the don’t want them to worry or to act differently towards the:. But it does hurt to find out at the end that they have been keeping it from you. I went through a similar thing with my mother. Yes we certainly need to appreciate the sacrifice our veterans make for us too.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 30, 2019:

Yes, Paula, this is five years old. It just takes one new reader to have old hubs resurrected on people’s feeds though, so good to see you reading this. Yes, I agree we don’t know how we will react until the situation arises and it needs to be a personal choice for each of us. Thank you for sharing the experience with your sister and for your kind comment.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on June 30, 2019:

John, I'm not sure if I've read this post before or not. I'm thinking not.

I honestly don't know how I'd react to a fatal cancer diagnosis. I guess that would be a response of a real moment.

This past December, my father died at age 86. He'd suffered from emphysema for years. He also briefly mentioned to my brother that he had lung cancer, but never told me. Daddy lived in Sacramento, California and I'm in Central Florida - clear across the continent.

As first contact, I was called when he was dying. The nurse on staff asked Daddy if he could tell me what was really going on and Daddy's response was, "Keep it". I heard him say that.

When I received his death certificate, lung cancer was mentioned. However, it also said, "Lung mass never biopsied. Chronic destructive Pulmonary Disease". Confirmed cause of death was acute on chronic respiratory failure, post obstructive pneumonia, and severe emphysema.

Apparently, Daddy wanted to keep the lung cancer to himself for reasons only he knew.

We can't predict the future or how we will react to it. However, when it comes to cancer, blood relatives should be made aware, because it could be hereditary. I think Daddy's ailments were brought on by spending 34 years as a fighter pilot for the USAF, including flying in Nam.

All the more reason to honor our veterans. They ultimately make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Suzie from Carson City on June 30, 2019:

Jodah.....5 years old? I obviously missed this very profound & touching piece. I'm here now and do have something to say.

We went through the cancer grip, many years ago with my precious late sister.

Through all the years I knew & loved her, I saw her as a strong, independent & determined woman. If I'd have had to surmise, I'd not be surprised had she chosen to be quite mum on her diagnosis.

However, this was not the case. Pat clearly felt an urgent need to rally her family and loved ones around her at this time. Having said this, I came to realize that we truly cannot know what our reactions nor decisions would be under such dire circumstances. In these cases, it's a unique & personal choice which I believe we make, if & when we're actually faced with a jolting diagnosis.

Absolutely beautiful Poetry, Jodah. Peace, Paula

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 30, 2019:

I wrote this some time ago Brenda, at a rather difficult time. I appreciate your reading it and for the lovely comment. Yes it is a very fine line.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on June 28, 2019:

You did a wonderful job on this.

It is difficult to tell others, for they immediately think the worse. The last thing a person needs around them is negative energy.

Believing in God and asking him to walk with you, heal you, etc. Is great.

Having prayers said for your healing, guidance, and strength is great also, but sometimes too many people knowing brings forth bad energy if they truly do not believe in God.

It is a very fine line, one which I hope you never have to walk.

Great write. It is very touching.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on July 29, 2018:

Thank you very much for the wonderful comment, Sanaa. I am glad you enjoyed this poem and you are very generous with your praise. Have a great day.

Sanaa Najim from Morocco on July 29, 2018:

Really I like your poem , it's great and incredible; it lets me remember that life is like a hard game which obligates us to fight and stay strong , and also to have the capacity to accept troubles and have a huge patience to win . i love this part of your poem '' don't say sorry '' :

I've come to accept it,

it's useless to worry.

But all that I ask,

is please don't say sorry.

I am so happy to have the chance to read your poems , I hope to read more and more .

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on November 10, 2015:

Audrey, thank you for reading and commenting on this hub. We all have to go through this at some stage unfortunately so there will always be someone this is relevant to. You are right it is a difficult issue and we all handle it differently. It is sad to hear about your friend. Thanks for sharing.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on November 10, 2015:

This hub hits home, as recent similar issues have come up. A friend has told everyone, and folks have become so supportive. Someone started a fund to save their home. Others suffer in silence. No one knows the correct answer, so everyone must do as he feels like doing. It is a sad issue, and I wish I knew the answer. Sorry Sunshine625 for your sadness. Sharing, Blessings, Audrey

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on November 10, 2015:

Some people never learn Sunshine, and I guess until someone close to us passes we don't really know how we will react. You should be proud with your wonderful tributes to Cap (Dave) through the book about his journey and hubs. I am sure he would be. Blessings.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on November 09, 2015:

I first commented 19 months ago, sadly my husband has passed since. Also sad that people still haven't learned much as I witness from a widows perspective. Oh well, there are us and the "others." it is what it is. :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 22, 2015:

Thank you Anna, I find that is necessary when dealing with subjects such as this. It's something we all have to face even though it isn't easy to talk about.

Anna Haven from Scotland on January 22, 2015:

Many people are very sensitive to issues concerning our mortality as you said. You managed to focus on that sensitive issue with care and grace.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 21, 2015:

Thank you for reading and for your wise comment moon lake. It is a very sad situation that I have been through with my parents. I agree, I think the dying person can usually tell how you feel by the way you act..you don't have to say sorry. Just talk about the old times and things that interest them. It helps take their mind off the present situation and you from having to say "sorry." Thanks for the vote up too.

moonlake from America on January 21, 2015:

Sometimes you don't get to chose weather to tell people or not they know just by looking at you or the way you act. I think it's best to let people know even if they just come once they do come and talk about old times it makes the dying person happy. I saw this with my husband. It's hard for people to see a person get thinner and sicker each day they come for a visit and they do stop coming but by that time in a lot of cases the dying person doesn't realize it.

Voted up.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on January 20, 2015:

Thank you for reading this hub dghbrh, I appreciate it is a touchy subject that many people don't wish to face but sometimes it is better to discuss the topic. I appreciate the vote up and share also.

deergha from ...... a place beyond now and beyond here !!! on January 20, 2015:

Very touchy yet very true. Loved reading this one. I wish nobody comes to face it in life but reality is opposite of my wish. Its hard always even to be there and even to know about somebody else. Anyway...though a tragic topic it is, you have really did justice to it. Thank you for this share...Sharing and votes up ahead.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 26, 2014:

Thank you for reading lee home and for your kind comment. The image at the top of the hub is from the book called "We Are Human Angels". I have added an Amazon capsule directly under it where you can purchase the book if interested. Thanks again.

leehome on September 26, 2014:

Powerful poem. Thanks for sharing. Life is meant to be celebrated and I'm very drawn to the emotion of the first painting of the angel giving comfort. Can you give me any details on the picture? Thanks again

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 10, 2014:

Thank you for reading this Katya and for your interesting and kind comment. Those are poignant words "you never know". I am glad you overcame those illnesses, and glad this hub got you thinking. Thanks again.

Katya Drake from Wisconsin on September 10, 2014:

This poem was great and this is a sad but interesting topic.

What would I do if I knew I was going to die soon? I have never thought about it before in this way. I always just thought about the fact that I would spend most of my last days on earth holding my children. But would I want anyone else to know? It is a tough call. I would not want sympathy and I would definitely not want to be treated like a leper but I would not want to keep such a HUGE secret from my friends and family either. Especially my family. They deserve to know.

Great hub. Very intriguing. It got me thinking, especially because I just overcame a couple of bad illnesses I was not even aware I had. You never know.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 09, 2014:

It is unfortunate that your friend couldn't beat the breast cancer. It is good that she shared it freely and gave people long enough to become used to dealing with it. That is often the difficult part, especially if it is sudden. Thank you for sharing your personal experience about your friend.

Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on September 09, 2014:

A friend of mine had breast cancer. She shared the diagnosis freely with everyone, and we were all part of her journey. Things were looking good for a couple of years, and she was a very positive person. In the end though, she died from it. By the time she got severely ill, we were all used to being around her, and her being sick. She never did want to talk much about the dying part with anyone but the very closest circle though.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on September 06, 2014:

Thanks Bill, it is a little freaky that you were suddenly directed to read this hub after finding out a friend had cancer and as you say I did publish this months ago. This kind of thing has happened to me before too and whether you believe in God or some other force, it does seem there is something higher watching and directing us. I am glad you are a survivor, as is my wife. Liver cancer usually has a bad prognosis but I know you will do your best to keep your friend as positive as possible.

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on September 06, 2014:

Very, very sad about your wife's younger sister. This life we are in is like an old backyard swing held up by frayed ropes. They could break at any time.

Beautiful Jodah and awesome as always.

I see that you have had this up for several months but I just found it, which is a little spine tingly because I learned just yesterday that a friend has been diagnosed with liver cancer and apparently will be lucky to make it until Christmas. His spirits are low. I shared my story with him. I beat cancer 11 years ago. Not everyone does, but you have to adopt the attitude that you are going to be the one who does beat it.

Your work is an inspiration to everyone. Please keep rolling on.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on June 29, 2014:

Thanks Ann, yes you are right it is a difficult subject to discuss. I find poetry is a good way of approaching delicate topics and make it a little less confronting.

Ann Carr from SW England on June 29, 2014:

This is a difficult one; I'm not sure that, in reality, I'd respond in the way I think I would. My nearest and dearest would know if anything was wrong anyway but I think my main concern would be upsetting the children and grandchildren. It would take a lot to persuade others to be positive and 'act normally'.

Great subject, approached in a sympathetic and positive way, John.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 09, 2014:

Hi izettl, thanks for reading. Everything you say in your comment is spot on. Even if it isn't a terminal illness, but something debilitating, people seem to put you in the too hard basket and start treating you differently or become scarce. The trouble is most people don't like to face up to this situation, preferring to ignore it until they have no choice. I am glad you liked this poem. I must be able to write as though I am suffering myself, because I wrote a poem about migraines and everyone thought I was a sufferer...lol.

Lizett from The Great Northwest on April 09, 2014:

What an awesome poem! You're gifted in the way that you can imagine yourself and empathize enough to write "as if" you were suffering. I was in my mid 30's when I got Rheumatoid Arthritis- it was debilitating at first and still can be. I'll never be who I used to be but would love if people treated me like who I used to be. Many friends dropped off the face of the planet. And I can't stand the word "sorry". I wonder what did they do that caused it. Why sorry? But truth is this info should be out there more...to not treat people differently...or disappear on them.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 04, 2014:

Exactly Crafty, it seems so hypocritical to celebrate after they are gone. Thank you for sharing that story.

CraftytotheCore on April 04, 2014:

Jodah, I've always said to people that life is the time to celebrate the living. People have lavish funerals and gourmet feasts afterward to celebrate the life of a person that has passed. But rarely do people celebrate the living in such a way. I've seen this first hand with people in my life that have passed away. When my cousin passed away, there was a luncheon to celebrate his life. Yet no one ever invited him to lunch when he was alive. Something to ponder!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2014:

Thank you for sharing that touching personal story Enron. We can all learn from the experiences and advice of others who have been through these sad times. It would be particularly difficult with the family living in different countries.

einron from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA on April 01, 2014:

My sister lived in Melbourne and the rest of the family in Canada and US. She did not even tell her husband until it became apparent. Three of us (sisters) went to Melbourne to see her when we were told she was in 4th stage cancer. She had none of her relatives in Melbourne but relatives of her husband. I stayed there for three months, but one sister left earlier and the other stayed on longer.

While we were there, every night we had family service, singing hymns and bible studies. We wanted her to be sure to keep relying on God and to keep focusing on God.

She lingered on for about two years and my brother who is a minister visited her from Houston when she was hospitalized and she kept her faith in God until the end. She was the youngest in a family of eight but the first to leave this world. God bless her soul.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2014:

Thanks for sharing that Sunshine. Keep up the good fight and continue making the most of every day together. It can be beaten as testified by Minnetonka and Eric.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2014:

Thanks for reading this again Eric and commenting. Your story is a great testimony to the Lords grace and healing powers.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2014:

Thanks for sharing your personal story Minnetonka. It is uplifting to hear the positives that can come out of a challenging situation. I am glad you have beaten all predictions. Stay positive and well.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on April 01, 2014:

Thank you Monis Mas for your kind comment.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on April 01, 2014:

So very true. Since my husband has been ill with cancer we do not want to hear "sorry" or want sympathy of any kind. "It is what it is" and while we are fighting, we are thankful for each day. We do not need pity. Perfect poem and I hope it teaches those who have never walked this journey a lesson on what not to say.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on April 01, 2014:

Sorry for the interruption, but I just got done doing a little ditty dance and thanking the lord for letting me live after cancer that was "terminal". I am just giggling at the devil and saw this again. Many pardon mona mi

Linda Rogers from Minnesota on April 01, 2014:

I really appreciate you sharing this conversation with us and the beautiful poem. I think it's hard to know for sure how you would deal with this issue unless you were in that place. I do know I would definitely want my best friends and family to know or it would feel ingenuine to me. When I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004 and given only a 20% chance of making five years, I wanted support and was open about it. The people that couldn't handle it or abandoned me, were not people that I wanted to use my energy on. God cleaned house for me in that sense when I was sick. Because I was open about it, I know who my true friends are. What a blessing and learning opportunity the diagnosis gave me. This is just my experience with this topic.

Agnes on April 01, 2014:

So beautiful, so touching, and so very sad...

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 25, 2014:

I appreciate you taking the time to read this nighthag and for your kind comment. It is often easier to ignore such subjects but I feel it's better to confront them early on, then it's easier to deal with at the time.

K.A.E Grove from Australia on March 25, 2014:

An interesting write that certainly invokes a lot of thought and certain emotions, our own mortality is always a powerful subject and I thought you handled it with grace and beauty ... lovely poem with a potent message

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on March 24, 2014:

Thank you, John. I also very much liked Phyllis' example of their handling the situation with her mother. It sort of reminds me of when I asked my sister's granddaughter what the usual dress for funerals in her little town were the funeral wold be, and she told me she was going to wear something joyful because that is what her grandmother loved, along with loving the freedom to do so! I had to agree and so I did that too. It sort of summarized the spirit of it.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 22, 2014:

Thank you mylindaelliott. I appreciate your comment.

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on March 22, 2014:

I would put myself in God's hands and tell my immediate family. I would try to wait as long as possible to tell other people.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 22, 2014:

Great to see you dear Nellieanna and it is a true pleasure to get such an interesting and insightful comment. Yes, the ultimate situation would be if the 'person' them self could sit down with friends and family as early as possible and discuss death and how they want to be treated at the end. Try to make everyone comfortable so that it can be as pleasant a time as possible for all concerned. I particularly like the example Phyllis gave in her comment of how they handled the situation with her dear mother.

Your wise words are an asset to this hub once again. Thanks you for that little gem of poetry at the end....the cherry on top. You said it all in so few words. You can't argue with that...lol.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on March 22, 2014:

What an excellent hub, John. Your discussion is tender and it is real; your poem is lovely. It is a very sensitive subject and I quite agree it would be horrid to be suddenly treated differently if one learned one had a terminal illness with a fairly certain ‘finality’.

Even as I say that, I am keenly aware that one is constantly 'treated differently' for any number of reasons all through life. That is not fatal in itself. In fact, it’s one of the conditions of actively living unless one is determined never to make any waves or even to just lying too still. If one is vibrant or one is reserved, one is treated differently. Just surviving into one's 80th decade makes a significant ‘difference'. I rather enjoy some of the small and almost awkward differences it makes but it’s easily deflected by just accepting BEING it oneself.

I think perhaps the husband of the widowed woman who inspired your hub had made that choice, and just made certain that he could fulfill it while he had life to live. I wonder, though, if there is any other way to also teach and put people’s minds at ease so they aren’t put on ‘alert’ if someone in their midst finds he/she has a shorter time to live? Wouldn’t it be good to help them feel less awkward and accept it, as one must do if that ‘sentence’ were to be pronounced? Perhaps the start of it begins with the person himself or herself. That could reach out with a comforting and uplifting help for those around him or her. You've done an excellent job of pointing out that positive attitude, that 'do it now' which should be one's attitude walking through life in any circumstances.

I’m quite aware is the basic insecurity and temporariness of life from the moment of conception till the last breath. The old saw that “no one is going to get out of it alive” is quite true. Accepting it has some positive advantages. If nothing else, it frees one to focus on the positive, alive moments one does live, and let the eventuality come in its own time. But, yes, it’s realistic to bear in mind that any moment could as easily be the last one as one of many more to follow. What they are is what matters, not that they can’t go on indefinitely. Here’s a little poem among so many I’ve written about aspects of LIFE:

We suffer from

A terminal condition




______© Nellieanna H. Hay

Dec. 1971

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 22, 2014:

Thank you for reading Ghaelach and for your kind and true words. Yes the loss lasts forever.

Ghaelach on March 22, 2014:

Hi John.

A sad story, but beautifully written.

There's not a lot I can add to all the comments you have received.

I take it that this has all taken place quite recently, so I'd like to say that I like many others have suffered the pain not of death, but of losing someone very close to you and your whole family. The pain does ease but the loss never does.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Thank you for reading Alicia, your kind comment, and sympathies.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on March 21, 2014:

Thank you for writing this hub, Jodah. It's a thought provoking article about a sad but important subject. I'm sorry about your sister-in-law's situation.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Phyllis, what can I say? I am really trying to write hubs that touch others in some way. Write on subjects many of us can relate to, but I often think about myself. Whether my hubs give the readers a sense of melancholy or make them reminisce about their childhood, or like this one did for you, your last days with your dear mother.

I appreciate you sharing your own personal story about your mother. It is a wonderful example for others in how to approach a sad time in the best possible way. Thank you for your kind words about my writing. I appreciate your friendship and support.

Phyllis Doyle Burns from High desert of Nevada. on March 21, 2014:

Jodah, you just keep growing in wisdom, spirit, and the gift of writing. This brings back some sad yet cherished memories when we took my mother home from the hospital because her wish was to die at home with only her loved ones near. For about a week we all took turns being with her. A few times the whole family sat in the room gathered together (we had her bed and all she needed set up in the living room). Rather than crying and expressing our sorrow, we talked about our life together and all the cherished memories. At times we laughed so hard. Mother would tell stories of each of us kids, the trouble we got into, the silly things we did, all the clothes she had to wash (seven kids), so many things we were able to talk about. She told us she did not want anyone coming to visit because she did not want to hear "I am so sorry." We honored her wishes. It was hard on all of us, but we got through it with love and joy for the memories and our time together. I honestly feel it was much better for all of us to handle it the way she wanted and we healed -- we still miss her so much, but she helped us to begin healing before she passed, and she passed in peace. Jodah, I cannot say how much your hub and poem means to me. Thank you.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Thanks for reading Vellur and your kind comment. Yes it is hard to act as though all is ok, but it's what we have to do.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on March 21, 2014:

Great poem ,sympathy is the worst when people are terminally ill. The best way is to treat them as if everything is OK, though this is very hard to do. Great write.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Thank you for such a generous comment Audrey, it is very humbling. Yes All I want is to relive pleasant memories at the end and hope friends and love ones aren't fearful of it all. I also appreciate you pinning this hub. Bless you to.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Thanks for your wonderful comment Anita, I agree Faith and prayer can cure many illnesses that doctors have classified as untreatable. A strong mental attitude also helps us overcome. Thank you for sharing the scripture verse of the mustard seed and the mulberry tree, and for your kind words about the poem

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on March 21, 2014:

Hi Jodah. This poem has such good rhyming and choice of words that create emotion in the reader. We can only hope that when we are very ill, friends can recall with us the pleasant times and not stay away or merely say they are sorry. You are blessed with great talent. Thanks for sharing. Blessings. Audrey. Pinning.

Dream Lover from Zagreb on March 21, 2014:

Hi Jodah ;) I think we all have to be worthy of our cross(like Jesus whose death showed us how much he loves us).Cancer is the most serious disease of our time,but I think that with a little faith and a prayer can be cured. From Bible, Luke 17,6 : He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.I think that every disease is curable.If I were diagnosed with a terminal illness I would keep it secret as long as long as possible, and suffer in silence and prayed to the Lord to heal me. Poem is great :*

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Thank you for reading and your kind comment knowledge-seeker. It's good to see a new face reading my hubs.

knowledge-seeker on March 21, 2014:

a beautiful poem expressing the life's challenges in an inspiring way. very nice effort. flourish my dear!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Good points you bring up MizBejabbers in regard to your mother's situation. I agree we do need to give others time to prepare and say their goodbyes. Thank you for your kind and insightful comment.

Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on March 21, 2014:

Beautiful expression of serious thoughts. We went through this with my Mom who let her siblings know that she had cancer, but she kept her advanced stage hidden from them. They were all in their 80s and she said she didn’t want them flying in from other states to see her. Her real reason was that she felt too bad to play hostess to them, which is another thought altogether. The result was that they were shocked and grieved because they had not had time to prepare for her death. So her way of dealing with her mortality was a two-edged sword.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 21, 2014:

Yes Frank it is rather confronting for a lot of people, but I think it needs to be said. Thanks for your comment.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 21, 2014:

damn this poem froze me in place for a moment..but I wont say sorry great job Jodah :)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thanks for reading Flourish. I agree totally, having death so close to home (or even severe sickness) makes others uncomfortable with their own vulnerability.

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 20, 2014:

I'm so glad your intro set the stage that the poem wasn't about you! I enjoyed it very much and know that I would probably not tell anyone including my family until I had to. Even when diagnoses are not terminal it is amazing how people turn away, avoid you, make it all about them (relatives!). I think it hits people too close to home regarding their own vulnerability and mortality.

Nell Rose from England on March 20, 2014:

Thanks Jodah. It's a hard time for her family at the moment, thanks for your kind comment.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thankyou Nell. It is devastating news to hear about your friend. It is good that you stayed strong for her, as many others can't confront death. I appreciate you taking the time for your kind comment.

Nell Rose from England on March 20, 2014:

This is very poignant at the moment, as we 'speak' my best friend is passing. She will be gone by tomorrow from this horrible disease. and yes I noticed many people kept away, but every time I said i couldn't face her I told myself, get over there and do it, its about her and nobody else. great poem, and said it so well, nell

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thank you Teaches, your comments are always most welcome and mean a lot. Have a great day my friend and God bless.

Dianna Mendez on March 20, 2014:

A terminal illness affects people differently. I had a friend who only told a few people, she didn't want their sympathy. Another, told all and asked for prayer. I voted your last option, I would trust God for my future and ask others to walk with me in prayer. A wonderful message, dear friend.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thank you Jackie for your thoughtful comment, and sharing about your own sister in law. Sometimes revealing all lets you get on and make the most of the time you have, and as you say "make things right with God".

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thank you for sharing such a personal story Mary. It's comments like yours that add tremendously to the value of a hub by providing additional insight and information for the readers. Some may skip over the comments but I enjoy reading them and getting to know the people behind them. Once again I appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on March 20, 2014:

The long suffering seems so bad but look at the time we do have to say goodbye and to make things right with God as long as we are mentally capable of doing that. I had a sister-in-law I loved like a sister died of cancer; it is not easy for anyone and some of us I think never get over it.

Mary McShane from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on March 20, 2014:

Well, you have certainly touched on a subject that many may not admit to thinking about, but do nevertheless. I'm sorry this is another long comment, but you have again touched a nerve with me.

Re: sharing a diagnosis and concern about how one will be treated. When I received my diagnosis for Parkinson's Disease last year, part of the reason I chose to not share it right away with many of our friends was precisely that reason. I couldn't take all the "I'm sorry" comments that were sure to come my way.

Consequently because I have such a large family and many of those friends are connected to each of my siblings, that was another consideration - I didn't want them to tell the rest of my sisters before I did. Only Nancy, my twin, knew. No one else.

It wasn't until this past Christmas that I chose to tell my other 6 sisters because they were going to spending a lot of time in my company for a family holiday after not having seen me in a long time - we all live in different states. I didn't want the big change in my appearance to be a shock or surprise, nor did I want them to feel sorry for me. I didn't have a death prognosis like people who are diagnosed with cancer or brain tumors, but my prognosis will be with me until my death. By telling them on the phone, well in advance of meeting up at my twin's house at Christmas, I had hoped to get past the I'm sorry stage before they saw me. Although it didn't work out that way, they still deserved to know, just as they have shared their illnesses with me. So, looking back, I would have told just my sisters and no one else, and hope they'd honor my wishes of keeping it in the family and not sharing it with our mutual friends.

I think the main fear I was worried about, and it has come to be, is that now I have lost the trust of not only friends, but family too, who used to consult for my knowledge of medical subjects that they normally came to me for advice about in the past. Parkinson's affected every person in my circle, you could say, because I am treated very differently now.

I can't say sharing my news with friends was a good move on my part because of that. I'm still a very viable human being, even though the label of a this diagnosis makes people treat you differently, sometimes with kid gloves and sometimes by just skipping past you when they want opinions on a medical issue.

I am so sorry to read about your sister-in-law but marvel about the past memories side effect because in that, she is truly insulated from the I'm sorry's of past behavior of others. I pray for a peaceful time for her. It is the best we can hope for with each of us.

Thank you John for such a wonderful poem that hits the nail on the head and for sharing about your sister-in-law.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thank you so much Eddy. It's not an easy subject, but I'm glad you liked the poem and hub in general. Always appreciate your support. Have a good day.

MsDora, thank you very much for your kind words. I hope people share this so it can help others if they approach this situation. That's the main problem, people don't know how to act.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on March 20, 2014:

Excellent poem coming out of the experiences you shared. Most people really don't know how to respond to other people's misfortune. Except for counseling, I don't know any other area of study that teaches it. Articles like this re very helpful.

Eiddwen from Wales on March 20, 2014:

Oh yes Jodah a wonderful hub.

The introduction brilliant and the poem so very fitting.

Great work my friend.


dragonflycolor on March 20, 2014:

Um, I'll be there with you as the lookout!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thanks for such kind caring comments Sally. Everything you say is so true and what I wanted to convey in this hub. Have a good day.

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on March 20, 2014:


I worked with an elderly person who was dying and never understood why so few of her friends called at the house. I understood even less when I attended the funeral, only to discover that the pews were filled with so called friends and family. I never understood why they did not come to the house and just visit her. All they had to do was sit a while and treat her as if she were loved. I wish we would all understand that death is something we will all have to go through - so much better to do it with friends or family nearby , than without.

This is such an important Hub Jodah - talking about death is the first step to understanding - thank you for sharing.


John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Dragonflycolor, I appreciate your kind insightful comment. You are right, "it isn't over until the fat lady sings"so the saying goes and I'd like to go out with an impact. I think I'll take up your suggestion to toilet paper anyone's house who says "sorry" and graffiti "sorry" allover there windows. Can I say you told me to?:)

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thanks for reading Bill.Yes I understand where you are coming from, you need time to say your goodbyes. Have a good day, and may there be many more ahead.

dragonflycolor on March 20, 2014:

This is a great poem. I think some people say "sorry" out of respect as it's become the expected gesture when tragedy happens. However, I agree with you when it involves a terminal illness. You're not dead yet and you can still get yourself into mischief. I strongly recommend you toilet paper someone's house and write "sorry" on their windows. :) Just a thought.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 20, 2014:

It's an interesting question. I would tell everyone but not for sympathy..in fact I would demand that I don't receive it...but I would want to be able to say my goodbyes to those I care about.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thanks for sharing your 'cancer"story Eric. It is inspirational for us all that you survived it. Positive thinking and faith can have a major part in beating it. Being treated as special may have made it more bearable too. Glad you liked this hub.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

@ Bk42, thankyou for reading this and voting up. Yes peopleare often frightened of saying the wrong things. I have been in that position myself and have hopefully learnt from it. You need to try to take the person's mind off the current situation and talk about things you know that interests them.

@ LongTimeMother, thank you for reading this. I do understand your not being able to vote in the poll,it is hard to say what you would do. Thanks for voting the hub up though. Have a good day.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on March 20, 2014:

My "terminal" cancer diagnosis was very public because I had been taken by ambulance twice to the hospital and it took a month to figure out why so everyone was wondering. In my case it was wonderful with everyone treating me special. Dying was a medical concept and not a spiritual one so it never really was something I accepted. No doubt the doctors and the prayers cured me. I surely do like this hub.

LongTimeMother from Australia on March 20, 2014:

I cannot vote in your poll, Jodah because I just don't know. Voted your hub up though. That part was. easy. :)

Brenda Thornlow from New York on March 20, 2014:

I don't know how I would feel if I were in that situation, but I can certainly understand not wanting anyone outside your immediate family to know. I'm sure a lot of people don't how to handle a friend who knows they are dying and probably say the wrong things or steer clear for fear they may say the wrong thing. Beautiful hub. Voted up!

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Thank you Ruby for your kind comment. It is unfortunate to hear about your sister as well. It would have been a difficult time for you.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Wow Joelle, thank you for sharing the story of your friend and her husband and for such a wonderful and interesting comment. She was lucky to have a friend like you who could visit her every day and made her last days as enjoyable as possible with the funny videos and jokes. Thank you also for the vote up and kind words re my wife's sister. Sorry you have to go away for awhile, but take care and I look forward to talking again when you return.

John Hansen (author) from Gondwana Land on March 20, 2014:

Hi Shauna, thank you for reading and your kind comment. I hope you never have to be in this situation to decide what to do.

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