Finding out someone you love is ill is hard. You don’t know what to say or if you do you don’t know how to say it.
When Ellis was first diagnosed we were inundated with lovely well wishing messages from people we didn’t expect, which was so nice. And ironically for me, it’s been those unexpected people who have maintained contact even up until today.
One of my best friends text me on the evening of Ellis diagnosis and he simply said:
“I have been thinking about what to say for ages, but can’t find the right words. Just wanted to tell you that.”
This was the best message I could have asked for. He was letting me know that he’s thinking about us, but not trying to fix it. I’m still not sure he knows how much that text meant to me.
Then we have family and friends who don’t even ask us any anymore, like the novelty has worn off. Don’t be this person. This person makes families like us feel alone and forgotten about. No you may not know what to say, but don’t just not say anything. Feeling like we are alone is way harder to deal with than you possibly saying the ‘wrong thing’ believe me.
The quick “how are things” or “how is he doing” keep us going.
We can’t fight this on our own. We are still people too, regardless of the situation.
It is very hard not knowing what to say to someone, so it is sometimes easier to forget about it all. But we’re not forgetting. We know who has been there the whole way through. The people who have checked in on us, chatted to me at 3am when they’ve noticed I’m online and can’t sleep. The people who phone about something else, but their first question is “how’s Ellis”.
Then there are the family and friends who don’t know what to say, but want to say something helpful. So they research. They research the treatments, the side effects, the ways in which they can help. These people are amazing.
When you are in this situation it’s like you live in 2 different worlds. You have home life with friends and family and then you have hospital life where you talk in medical terms, possible outcomes, logistics of getting to each appointment time.
Just by being that friend who has taken some time to quickly google the process and take time to understand the basics, you are being more supportive than you realise.
It’s the little things that families like ours want.
Just to feel connected. To feel understood.
And more important to feel thought of.
If you know someone who is going through an illness or bereavement please text them. Just a simple “Thinking of you”. Or “Hope you’re ok” will mean the world to someone who feels alone.
We don’t need someone to fix us, but simply to say “I’ve got you”.
We would much rather you admit you don’t know what to say, than say nothing at all.
Ask us what we need.
I bet it isn’t as scary as you think.