Friday 27 April 2018

How To Support A Friend Whose Loved One Is Dying

To put it bluntly, losing someone you love is really, really shitty. Except you don't really 'lose' them. It's not like you don't know where they went and you're hoping one day they'll pop up between the couch cushions.
The fact is, people die, and sometimes, dying can take a long time. It's heart-breaking, it's hard, and -- sometimes -- it's grossly unfair.
I can only speak from my own experiences here, but my Dad dying from cancer was akin to someone dying from a thousand paper cuts. It happened bit by bit, over years and years.
First came the diagnosis -- upsetting, of course -- but prostate cancer was a "good" cancer, so thank God for that. Then came the news it wasn't the normal kind of prostate cancer, so things would be more difficult. Then came the treatments, unrelenting in their aggression, and then came the news it wasn't going away. It was terminal -- but we still had three to five years.
But that turned out not to be the case either, and so it goes.
As I said, it's really, really shitty. And to be honest, no one really gets it unless they've been through it themselves, which is where my old flatmate Beth comes in. Having lost her mum to cancer, Beth knew exactly what I was going through, and had a list of advice to boot. Not necessarily for me, but for everyone else.
Because here's the thing: when someone you love is dying, even if you don't want to talk about it, you have to. People will straight up ask. Questions like, "how is your Dad these days?" will fly thick and fast and it will your job to inform them that, no, chemo is no longer an option, or to reassure them with, yes, he sure is hanging in there.
Of course, people only want to help. They care. They don't know it's the seventh time you've had that conversation that day. And it's nice to be asked. You don't want not to be asked, as though it's taboo or he's dead already. See how muddy the waters are already?
Dealing with this situation can be awkward, and difficult, and, to be frank, sometimes people can really screw it up. So here are some tips, courtesy of Beth and me, about what to do if you have a friend whose loved one is dying.

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