Two of my clients have recently had surgery for cancer – one for third-stage ovarian cancer and the other for metastatic breast cancer. Both these women are intelligent, resourceful, creative and courageous. Both are working with traditional and alternative healing approaches. Cancer has inspired both to find deeper self-awareness, ask profound spiritual questions, and to live more consciously. They both respect and are grateful for the challenges and gifts having cancer has brought to their psycho-spiritual journey through life.
Both are aware that many of their friends and family aren’t comfortable including the big “C” in their conversations or expressing their big “C” caring and concerns. I am blessed as my role as counselor means I must be authentic in my listening and my speaking around all kinds of “big” and awkward subjects. The context of my relationship with both of these clients gives me permission to ask real questions and offer my perspectives and support.
I care deeply about my clients and in meeting their needs for a counseling friendship and serving their personal development, I always learn and grow and heal. In addressing a particular situation, I often experience an inspired truth or creative possibility that has benefit to all of us, not just my client.
In conversation with one of these women around the dilemma and burden of the “unspoken” thoughts and feelings in their friends and family, a new opportunity appeared that I want to share with all of you. It is not just about cancer, its about so many aspects of our life journeys and our loving communities.
Have a party! Not just gathering people together for food, drink and chatter. Add a deeper dimension of a shared expressions of meaning and love that’s fun and profound.
The party can be hosted by the “center of attention” or by someone who loves her or him. The party can be any size but 4 to 16 is a great size for comfortable expression.
This is a love feast – a party with love as the reason for showing up and being present.
After the initial food, drink and conversation, ask everyone to gather in one room and let the meaning begin. Everyone is asked to express their love, feelings and wishes for the center of attention, the one sitting in the “love seat”.
Here are several suggestions for a creative and liberating process of expression.
Have large sheets of drawing paper, lots of crayons, markers, colored pencils, magazines and glue sticks. For 30 minutes or more let everyone create a work of personal imagination about their feelings around the cancer (or whatever crisis is being experienced like divorce, loss of a job, etc), their friendship and their offer of love and wishes for the future. Assure everyone that this is not about artistic skill but about love and meaning. Ask everyone to share their “work of Love” and describe the meaning behind each image, color or form and what they were feeling while they were working on it. Give them permission to express their truth (which includes, saying they need to pass on the sharing).
Get a set of angel cards or any other set of inspirational cards. Have everybody choose a card. Go around the room and share what the particular card expresses about their feelings in regard to the cancer, their friend and their shared relationship. They can also share what the card inspires in them.
This is probably the least threatening exercise for those who aren’t used to expressing feeling in pubic. Give each person an index card or a sheet of paper and a pen. Ask them to write down their feeling and wishes. Have them fold it up and place it in a basket or bowl. Then ask one person to read them all out loud. You can bring in humor with this exercise by asking people to add something funny about the “center of attention” – I’ve even suggested they make up something wild and crazy.
The relaxed and warm feeling of a party and the permission, encouragement and creative means to express love will give a memorable, liberating and healing experience for everyone, especially one in the love seat.
Yes, giving and attending a party of meaning can be a moving experience, so have a box of tissues for all the tears of love. It is so special.