Dear Friend

Love heals. That is the simplest way to put it. Friends help us heal. Kindness heals. Kindness, they say, is love with its work boots on. The experience of being surrounded by love, family and friends who care about you, and the kindness of strangers—including doctors and other healers who care for you—is for many an awesomely powerful experience.

When you are hurt, or frightened, or your world has turned upside down, nothing is more healing than love. Being loved and loving are among the greatest gifts of life. Love tells us we are not alone.

For those fortunate enough to have family members who are an authentic source of love and support, that is a special gift.

Friends are a powerful source of love and support. Even one true friend to whom you can say anything without feeling judged. Someone who will stay with you, come what may.

Support groups or healing circles can be extraordinarily sources of love and support. They enable you to share experiences in confidence with others who are going through the same thing.

Some support groups are well facilitated while others devolve into places where people complain about their care. A badly run support group or healing circle can be actively unhelpful. If it doesn’t feel truly healing, it’s a good sign to look elsewhere.

When we need help, it’s not just family, friends and support groups. It’s the support of a community of those around us that can make a real difference. You may be surprised at who shows up to offer care and support.

Romantic new love, seasoned old love, love of family, love of friends. They each help. They help most all together.

Love of a pet can be so healing. A dog’s love is unconditional.

It’s interesting to discover who steps back and who steps forward when we are in a difficult medical situation. Many people feel bereft when a partner steps back because they can’t deal with a medical situation. It’s a very hard thing. But others may step forward when a partner can’t or won’t. We learn a lot about partners as well.

Can we love ourselves? For some people that’s not hard. For others it can be one of the hardest things. The Dalai Lama says “you can search the whole world and not find someone as deserving of your love and support as yourself.”

How open are we to receiving love and support? Or to reaching out to ask for support when we need it?

There is a poem by Raymond Carver called “Late Fragment.”

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

That seems to me to say it all. To call ourselves beloved, to feel ourselves beloved on earth, is, for me, all I can ask for.

Wishing you well,


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About the Author

Michael Lerner

Michael Lerner is co-founder of Commonweal and co-founder of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, Healing Circles, The New School at Commonweal, and CancerChoices.

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Michael Lerner is co-founder of Commonweal and co-founder of the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, Healing Circles, The New School at Commonweal, and CancerChoices. He has led more than 200 Commonweal Cancer Help Program retreats to date. His book Choices In Healing: Integrating the Best of Conventional and Complementary Approaches to Cancer was the first book on integrative cancer care to be well received by prominent medical journals as well as by the patient and integrative cancer care community.

Michael Lerner Co-Founder