That One Special Person Who Helps You Cope

Last updated: January 2022

I often miss my grandma. She was my biggest supporter. She really encouraged me to follow my own path.

In adolescence, I tended to feel alienated from my family, for my relatives do not share my artistic interests. My grandma was different. She understood the creative journey. She regularly went to the theater, read voraciously, and appreciated classical music and painting. In fact, she painted a number of interesting works, one of which hangs on my wall to this day.

She was also there for me in tough times. This was invaluable, particularly when I had trouble coping with Crohn’s disease. I was diagnosed at age 13, a relatively young age, and often found the various issues IBD caused overwhelming.

Helping me cope with my Crohn's

For instance, the repetitive nature of debilitating gastrointestinal symptoms frequently threw me into a panic. My grandma had a way of quelling my nerves. She also made me feel loved. What is more, she helped me understand all I’d endured and helped me appreciate the good times.

It was perhaps the way she talked to me more than what she said that was so vital. She was very understanding because she’d been through a great deal herself: poverty during The Depression, WWII, raising four kids, a failed marriage, antisemitism, a father who was handicapped, the death of a child. In other words, she’d acquired a certain degree of wisdom over the years that she shared in a way that was helpful.

Her advice has helped me through it all

Another benefit of chatting with my grandma is she had memorable little sayings. For example, when I was upset that Crohn's disease had caused me to miss an important acting gig, she said, "Matt, when you can't zig, you zag." She had a point. You have to be flexible. And perhaps we are meant to learn something by turning away from a preconceived path.

Another favorite expression of hers was "laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone." Certainly, there are times when we all need to cry. Her point was, however, that what you put out into the world you often get back. Or as it says in the Bible, Matthew 7:16, "You will know them by their fruits."

I miss her support in my life

This past Rosh Hashanah was 2 years since my grandpa passed away at the age of 99. My father lit a memorial calendar and we ate the store-bought gefilte fish instead of my grandma’s homemade kind. Eating the lousy kind from the can made me think of her and wish she was celebrating the New Year with us. It was almost unbelievable that she was gone.

Strangely enough, she passed away while attending a Crohn's and Colitis Foundation charity gala where I was granted an award. She showed up that night although struggling with various health ailments. Yes, in a way that seems poetic, she died while trying to support me. I miss her every day. I guess I never fully realized how lucky I was to have her in my life until she was gone.

Do you have a supportive friend or relative who helps you cope with IBD? Why is this person important? Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments below.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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