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Cancer Diagnosis For Someone You Love? What Can You Do?

Catherine Behan

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Every now and then, life throws a curve ball with devastating impact. There isn't one of us who will escape grief at one time or another. I wish I would have understood that when I was younger. The fact is, bad stuff happens sometimes. That is the path of life.

It doesn't really matter what the precipitating event is. Could be the death of a loved one, the injury of a family member, cancer, or even the remarriage of a parent. Each of us responds to the grief within the shocks of life in our own personal way, but we all share the experience of those inevitable life jarring shocks.

If you have a friend who is in the middle of one of these situations, I know it is excruciating for you to think of her going through this terrible time. I also know it is just as painful to not know what to do to help her. When someone in an emotional disaster zone needs the most encouragement she ever has, many times, friends are inexplicably paralyzed. You vow to be there for her but something always comes up. You hold her in your mind every day, though, and what a conflict that sets up.

If you are simply an adorable procrastinator, like the author of this article is, you feel guilt at your inattentiveness and so every time you think of your friend, you feel a pang of uncomfortable guilt because of those unmet intentions. Ouch! Double Ouch! Your friend needs something from you that is completely opposite.

She needs for you to pause when she visits your thoughts and think, “You can do it. I am so proud of you. I know this is terrible and I am sorry you are having to go through this. I love you. I am so proud of you. You are brave and strong. " Thinking these thoughts while picturing your friend is life. A gift of true life.

So the moral of the story is. . . don't waste your time on a bunch of stupid guilt sludge. Everyone feels awkward when someone is going through a really hard time. It is like a part of us thinks grief is contagious or something. For the sake of your friend and for yourself. . . .

Snap out of it!! If you are in this scenario there are some things you can do right away. First of all, send cute funny cards. Send them a lot. There is nothing like getting real snail mail. There is something about seeing the handwriting of a friend that brings lasting relief.

Send the DVD of your favorite comedy. Laughter is indeed the best medicine. Providing your friend with her own library of comedies to choose from is another lasting gift. On the receiving end, there were two movies that tickled my funny bone over and over, Liar, Liar with Jim Carrey and The Bird Cage with Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Laughter always makes you feel better, no matter what the circumstances.

Don't be afraid to call on the phone. She will definitely be screening or will turn the phone off if she is resting but she can play your message over and over and hear you speak positive, loving thoughts to her. She will probably not answer but don't let that stop you. I can't emphasize this enough. Even ME, the queen of accommodating, eventually stopped answering calls. But I listened to the messages. . . over and over.

If she is in a health crisis, send a card to her primary care giver. He or She is probably exhausted, scared and really lonely. A warm wish from you will be a nice surprise and she will really appreciate someone acknowledging her beloved helper.

What are some other ideas you have seen? How can we be angels to one another when we are in the fight of our lives? I'm sure you all have some great ideas and resources to add to my list!

Life's lessons are tough ones. Let's get through them together!

Catherine Behan is a speaker, seminar leader, author and relationship expert. To hear Catherine in action, download a free audio sample of a recent class, Does Your Great Great Grandma Have Her Hand In Your Wallet?


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