My wife is dealing with cancer and I’m learning some things about that far too common journey. The ironic thing is that I’ve been writing a book on cancer with a friend, who is dealing with the strain of her second diagnosis of cancer. For the past year, I’ve sent her a daily devotion and she has been journaling her response to each day’s post. We hope to publish a book to help people find spiritual support and practical wisdom to help with their struggles.
It looks like I’ll be writing a chapter I never dreamed I would write….when cancer came to my family.
One of things I’m learning is how hard it is to support a loved one in a great trial. It’s been said that it is harder to watch someone you love go through pain, than it is to go through it yourself. I know I’m finding it difficult to say the correct words to help my wife. This is due to wondering “what is the right thing to say?”, not whether or not I want to be encouraging. This dilemma is not a “cancer”specific problem, but rather applies to anyone with a loved one in pain.
- What do you say to a friend who says, “I have cancer?”
- How do you encourage someone who says, “My husband left me for another woman?”
- What expression of hope is appropriate for the one whose child just died?
- How do you answer the question, “Why did this terrible thing happen to me?”
- What can you say to the one who got laid off two weeks after his wife had a baby?
Now the problem is not having something to say. The problem is not saying something that is trite in sentiment or that sounds callous to the one who is hurting.
- Don’t say – “I know how you feel.” Nobody knows how anyone feels
- Don’t say – “I am sure everything will be okay.” You don’t know that.
- Don’t’ say – “I have a friend who had the same surgery, etc.” Your friend’s experience is not relevant.
- Don’t’ say – “let me know if I can help.” Find a way to help.
- Don’t say – “God needed your loved one in heaven.” That makes God sound cruel.
What do you do when someone you know gets the worst news ever? Maybe, don’t say anything at all. Do something! Anything. Say a prayer. Write a personal note. Make a personal visit. Bring a meal to the house. Make a phone call. Make yourself available to listen. Or try this, just go sit by their side and saying nothing at all while you hold their hand.
When someone gets the worst news ever, do something that will make you their best friend ever. Show them that you care. That’s what they really need. They don’t need a solution, they need to know they are loved.
P.S. Let me know in the comment section you’d like to receive the cancer, or going through trial devotions, I mentioned in the last post. I’m still compiling a list.