One of the most challenging things I face on a daily basis is inadvertent emotional pain that my husband faces. He continues to confront his own mortality and as a result often reacts to visual content, language or references about death and dying. Simply put, it is painful for him to think about death. This pain or hurt can be generated from a variety of sources, but the most consistent is the television. It’s ironic that most of the entertainment shows on television centre around death, murder or mysterious, but nonetheless, death. Top news stories usually deal with bombings, deaths and loss of life. Life is so very precious to him now that it pains him to hear these things spoken about almost in passing. For every news story that talks about a suicide bomber killing 20 people in a market there are 20 families and an exponential number of friends and relatives left reeling with shock and loss. This is the impact for him, the thought of those left behind. Then there’s the “shock” advertising campaigns, designed to deter harmful habits, like smoking, by providing graphic visuals. These actually traumatize the lung cancer sufferer. My husband wasn’t a heavy smoker at all yet these ads would suggest differently. They speak to painful deaths – just what the patient wants to hear.
We have modified our viewing preferences to documentaries and educational type shows, even then death is inevitable in the recounting of some stories. The stuff is everywhere and we would have to live in a bubble to avoid it. My learning out of this is one of compassion. The saying ‘walk a mile in another’s shoes’ really fits here. One person’s idea of entertainment may not be another’s, but that’s why we have remote controls.