When my dad got cancer I could tell that my friends didn’t even know what to do with me… and that was ok.
They are amazing. Seriously I can’t thank them enough for the love and support they have given me and my family through this mess. I know it’s not easy on them either. No one ever wants to see their friends go through something this hard. And I feel so bad for them! It can’t be easy to be there for me. They’re probably always wondering what to do or say when I’m around. How am I supposed to talk to her? What do I say? Am I going to inadvertently insult/upset her if I say this?
So, here is my attempt at advice again. These general ideas are working for me so maybe they’ll work for you too.
How to be a good friend to someone like me
- Ask me how I’m doing but don’t be offended if I don’t want to talk about it– This one I really appreciate. Honestly thank you for asking how I am because sometimes I feel like if I just come out and say “I feel so crappy” or “I’ve been pretty great lately” I’m demanding some sort of attention. On the flip side though there will be times that I get asked and it’s just not the right time or place to talk about it and I’m going to tell you. Please don’t get mad… I just don’t want to cry in the bar bathroom again.
- Let me come to you with news- This kind of feeds off the last one. I promise I will come to you to talk about things when I’m ready. I know you’re doing it out of love but having you blow up my phone every day asking about my mom, my dad, or me can be overwhelming. If something happens I WILL come to you to talk about it. My friends have been very good with this. Obviously when this all started my phone was buzzing constantly with questions but now I think I’ve been pretty good at keeping everyone in the loop. They know that I will always tell them what is going on… I’m just doing it in my own time.
- Please don’t feel like your life isn’t interesting to me anymore. What’s happening in your life matters to me- Just because my dad is sick doesn’t mean I don’t care about you. If your boyfriend is being an idiot or your boss is ruining your life I want to hear about it. This is not a “my crappy life trumps your crappy life” kind of situation. My friends constantly get through telling me a story and then back track with “omg this must sound so trivial to you I’m so sorry.” Please don’t say that. It only reminds me that things are bad. Listening to my friends talk about the good and bad of their lives makes me feel normal. I like hearing about this stuff! I liked hearing about it before this happened, I like hearing about it during this whole ordeal, and I’m going to like it after this is all over.
- Don’t tread lightly- This one just started happening recently. I think because the initial shock of my dad’s diagnosis has worn off people feel like they can’t talk about certain things around my in case it will trigger me. We were at a friend’s dad’s memorial service recently and someone was talking about how hard it must have been for her to stand there all day. She said that she didn’t think she could do it and she couldn’t imagine being in that situation. Later she apologized to my boyfriend because she was worried that I was upset by what she said. I honestly didn’t even go there because I was standing there thinking the same thing. I never in a million years would have taken offense to her comments at all! Please don’t be afraid to talk about things like cancer, illness, death, or anything in front of me. I know what I can and can’t handle and I will let you know too.
- I know I look tired… please don’t tell me- I mean this one is kind of just how to be a good person. In my case though, the thing that has gotten to me the most is the lack of sleep and my lack of energy. I usually have one or two bad nights where I’m tossing and turning and I look like trash the next day. My energy is pretty low too so I’ve been skipping more and more work outs. Yes, I know I have bags under my eyes and yes, I know I put on a few pounds. Please don’t point it out because I’m already beating myself up about it. Just be there for me, give me suggestions on how to get more sleep, and work out with me. Help me take good care of myself because I often forget to do that.
- When this is all over please still be there for me- This doesn’t end when my dad dies. Yes, this part is incredibly hard and I need you more than I’ve ever needed you before but when he’s gone I’m not even going to know what to do with myself. When he’s gone plan trips with me, get me drunk, sit down and talk about my dad with me, send me funny pictures while I’m at work, do whatever you think will make me smile. I will greatly appreciate it. Everyone has told me that in situations like this you see who your true friends are. They’re the ones that stick around after all the excitement dies down. I don’t worry about my friends so much on this one. I know they’ll be around.
Those are some of the important ones to me. Again, I’m not the best at giving advice but hopefully this helps. Just be good to your friends no matter what the circumstance is. You never know when you’ll really need them to be there for you.