Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say. On a blog. On the phone. In a letter. In person.
Beginning with the last two weeks in February things started getting hard.
My sister had to do a very brave thing. It was time for her adopted greyhound to leave this world. Being brave is so hard. What do you say?
Our neighbor, Steve, lost his battle with Alzheimer’s disease. I took a breakfast care package to his wife and daughters. Mr. Aitch was an honorary pallbearer. We hadn’t seen Steve for over a year when he was moved to a nursing home. What do you say?
Mr. Aitch’s cousin suffered from COPD. Her suffering ended in February. What do you say?
A co-worker’s sister. Also gone. What do you say?
Last night we learned that a friend Mr. Aitch and I have known since college was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has four or five months left to live. He’s teaches at a local college and is in the middle of directing a musical production that opens this week. This particular production is one that he actually wrote. And it will be his last.
I want John to know that I value his friendship. He and his wife used to come to our house and play Trivial Pursuit until the wee hours of the morning. We went on motorcycle trips together. I listened to the heartaches that come with parenting teenagers. I only see John a few times a year now and when we go to the musical performance this weekend, I’ll probably see him again.
What do I say?
I am not sure if you are really expecting an answer, but if you do, my advice is to just show you care and then listen. We are so often driven by the need to do something, to help, that we don’t necessarily focus on what the person in mourning or someone battling cancer really wants. John might prefer to pretend nothing has happened or he might like to talk about it in detail. You won’t know until you talk with him.
I have also heard people like practical help, as in “I can drive you if you want.” or ” I am going to the grocery store. Is there something I can get for you?” rather than the “Let me know if you need something.” which might come across as a polite, but insincere offer. Hope this helps.
Thank you. I wasn’t sure if I was expecting any comments but I’m very glad people did leave a comment.
I’ve often told people to let me/us know if they need something and truly meant it but I know it can seem insincere. Offering a specific service (for lack of a better word) is much more helpful.
You tell him how much you loved his musical. How thankful you are for him being your friend and being in your life. I agree with sunny ‘s comments .
I still miss Santa EVERY day .He was so much braver than I was.
And you are braver than you think.
And I agree with Sunny and Jude. Just tell him what it meant that he was your friend. Hug his wife and call her when the end comes. Let her talk about him, don’t avoid the subject. Life IS hard, but it is also what we make of it. Bad things happen to good people all the time. There is no reason, life happens.
No words TRULY help– but just knowing someone does feel for you, well, that is about all you can do, and that is what you do. A handshake and a forearm squeeze, a hug, a pat on the back/shoulder, it all matters, and helps.
No, words don’t truly help but a hug can convey so much more. John is a hugger so it won’t be unusual for me to give him a big hug when I see him.
Love you, Brother.