The pain of his loss was clearly written across his face.
His grief was palpable as he shared with me the unbearable agony we feel when we are forced to bury a loved one struck down by a cruel illness in the prime of life.
Prostate cancer had claimed another victim in Mike’s brother and he was recounting the daily difficulties of living his life without the presence of his lifelong best friend.
As obvious as Mike’s pain was, it was not sufficient to mask the seething anger that was gnawing away at his very being.
Mike’s anger was directed at his brother and the perceived role he played in his own demise.
Paul, Mike’s brother, was one of those folks who lived in a world of self-deception in which the prevailing and naïve belief was that if a problem was ignored long enough it would simply disappear.
Mike explained to me that Paul’s life had been made difficult and challenging by his reluctance to face issues in his life. His aversion to dealing with difficulties and stresses, problems and conflicts had caused him years of misery and yet, despite Mike’s constant intervention, Paul consistently held fast to his belief that if he chose to ignore the challenges in his life they would eventually self-correct.
And Paul took that approach to his health as well. He had not seen a doctor in more than 15 years and stoically refused to participate in a discussion with Mike that involved topics as simple as a routine physical.
In fact, he repeatedly told Mike that he would rather not know if he had a serious health challenge because he would not want to have to deal with it.
With this philosophy, Paul naturally ignored the originating symptoms of his disease by joking with Mike about his increased frequency of bathroom visits. When Mike implored him to visit a doctor he naturally resisted with his usual “I don’t want to know” flippant response.
Even as his symptoms increased Paul continued his “if I ignore it, it will go away” approach.
Sadly, Paul’s unwillingness to consider The Habit of Facing It To Fix It allowed the cancer in his prostate to metastasize to the point where chronic back and hip pain forced him to seek medical intervention.
And when he did so he received a diagnosis that can only be described as everyone’s worst nightmare.
The only treatment option available was palliative care and Paul passed away three months after his first reluctant visit to a doctor.
He left behind a loving wife, two adoring young children and a brother whose grief was tempered with frustration at Paul’s unwillingness to address issues in his life.
While there is no way of knowing with absolute certainty that early detection would have kept Paul alive, Mike is absolutely furious that he didn’t make the effort.
Mike has lived his life with The Habit of Facing It To Fix It constantly at his side and shared with me that he feels he failed his brother by not forcing this same habit upon him.
If there is a lesson to be learned from Paul’s unwillingness to even consider this habit it is that nothing can ever be solved without first being acknowledged and running and hiding from the truth may at best, buy a little time, but in the long run will almost always result in far greater pain, embarrassment, despair and desperation then facing it, owning it and working to fix it every day.
Time will heal the wound in Mike’s soul and we can all prevent similar pain from entering our lives by simply making The Habit of Facing It To Fix It a way of life.
It will beat the alternative every time.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.