help me know what to say to my friend

I hope it’s not inappropriate for me to ask this, just ignore me if so.
My friend was told this week that she has six to eight weeks left to her, she’s been undergoing treatment since last summer with limited success and now they’ve found she has brain tumours as well. She and her partner have asked for quiet time and that we don’t contact them until they’re ready, which of course I and her other friends are completely respectful of.
Eventually we’ll be seeing her, and I am really struggling to know what to say. I know that sounds pathetic, and I’m not that kind of person at all, I have no issue discussing difficult things and we have talked openly about her cancer and treatment all through this. But now, I can’t think of a single thing to say which wouldn’t be a huge downer for her, I just can’t. I don’t want to shy away from anything but I don’t know if it would just upset her to speak about it, and anyway, this is death, it’s such an unimaginable thing I just don’t know how to empathize and I don’t think simple sympathy is helpful either.
I don’t know what to expect of you, but you seem like a very real bunch of people, if you have any advice which would help me talk properly with my friend at this most difficult time of her life I would greatly appreciate it.

It is tough. I speak not as one with breast cancer, tho I do have it, but as someone who lost her closest friend to adrenal gland cancer some years ago. I’m also a nurse.

Sometimes saying nothing can be very powerful. It is easy to get wrapped up and worried about what to say but your friend may appreciate you just being there. She may bring up things she wants to talk about and can lead the conversation. You cant tell her things are going to be ok but she may be worried about other more practical things. My friend just wanted to be sure her husband was ok.

There is no strict right thing to say as we are all individuals but I would say dont stress about it, just go with how your friend leads it.

I do feel for you and can remember how difficult it was

Take care

Julia xx

Hi bluebell
What a horrible situation for eveyone to be in. Personally, I think you must take your lead from your friend as to what to talk about. When she is ready to see you then I’m sure she will know what she wants from other people.
The first words are always the hardest but sometimes the simplist thing is best. A big hug says volumes. It may lead to tears or to memories of happier times. If you have any photos or something special to both of you, take it along to talk about if it seems right. Maybe there’s something just you 2 can do together. Ask her or her partner.
For me, I wouldn’t like people to be all sad. I would hate my last weeks to be full of doom and gloom.
Most important, let her know how important a part she has played in your life. We all like to be appreciated.

Hi bluebell,

I’m so sorry that you are in this situation. It does help me to see from a different angle that why some of my friends and families are behaving the way they are.

I’ve found the following website very helpful and some of my friends have adopted some of the tips and have brighten up my life so much.

You may find the third paragraph helpful.

Take care

I would agree with Rancitart that saying nothing is often the best way. Be a good listener and supportive and be guided by what she says. We always feel that we have to offer pearls of wisdom but in this case, she knows the score terefore let her set the agenda.

Hi bluebell,

I have twice in the last couple of years been with friends who were in their last week of life and it is very hard, but a very special time. They both wanted friends with whom they could be honest, who would not deny them the right to say it how they wanted to. You know how some people say ‘no you will be all right’ when we know they won’t. That is sad because it takes away from the dying person the right to acknowledge they haven’t long. Not sure if I am making sense. So be honest with your friend and take your cue from her. If she wants to talk about her dying then let her know it is ok and you will be a willing listener. But sometimes as others have said words are not needed. Touch says so much.

Dawn :slight_smile:

Hi all,

thank you bluebell for raising this issue and to Dawn for giving the website details…I found the suggestions very helpful. I have 3 friends who are dealing with terminal diagnoses. I myself was dx last April and after 3 ops and 4EC/4Taxol chemo which finished in November I am progressing well. I am a very positive person and play the cards I’ve been dealt so very happy to talk to anyone in a very straightforward manner about my situation…heck, I might be run over by a bus tomrrow!

I found it very interesting to hear the comments on the website of someone who thinks like me. I just wonder about those who don’t deal with reality in quite such a straightforward manner…I’m actually relating this to an aged (90) mother who isn’t dealing well with the end of her life even though it’s inevitable! That is a completely different issue I know but is the only link I have to the alternative attitude.

I do, however, think that the same priciples apply which is basically to take your lead from the individual…try to give them what they need, I suppose.

Very difficult I agree but as long as we are there and sensitive to their needs I think we’re doing all we can for our loved ones.

wishing you all strength
Lee x