?

Log in

[cancer] How to talk to someone in my position - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2013-04-17 06:00
Subject: [cancer] How to talk to someone in my position
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, health, personal
This is a question which keeps popping up. How do you talk to someone in my position, or an analogous one? Someone with a fatal illness, someone approaching or already within the end stages. I'll say more on this down the line, but here's a few simple tips based on my experiences.
  • Acknowledge what we're saying. Changing the subject or acting like it isn't real doesn't help

  • Don't minimize. We really do have a pretty good handle on what's going on. What may look like emotional drama to you is the hard reality of everyday life for us.

  • Don't project your own fears. Remember that you are losing a friend, but we are losing everyone we have ever known or loved.

  • Don't go into problem solving mode. If we want advice, we'll ask for it. Chances are good we or our caregivers have thought exhaustively about our choices and alternatives.

  • Don't compare. Whatever we're dealing with, whatever is killing us, that is overwhelmingly unique to our personal experience.

  • Listen.

The obvious caveat is that if we ask you something specific, run with it. The patient gets to make or break these guidelines at their own discretion. Likewise if your relationship has a specific dimension, one tip or another may not apply. I want my doctor to problem solve. When I'm talking to another cancer patient, we compare constantly. But these are a good starting point.

Post A Comment | 9 Comments | Share | Link






Clint Harris
User: wendigomountain
Date: 2013-04-17 14:21 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Also known as "How to talk to one's spouse." Sound advice for just about anybody anywhere, sir.
Reply | Thread | Link



kellymccullough
User: kellymccullough
Date: 2013-04-17 17:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Honestly, I know there's not much I can do for you. We're not friends, though we are colleagues and we've crossed paths a few times. I've enjoyed our encounters and had hoped that we might get a chance to talk more at some point. That's looking highly unlikely, which I regret. So, I will continue to do what I have done this far.

I will read what you have to write here and I will refuse to look away or pretend that you are suddenly going to get better—though I will be delighted if you defy the odds. I will bear witness and try not to flinch.

I know it's not much, but it's what I can offer. I have lost several people close to me over the years, and I know that it helped them for me to be someone who didn't try to change the subject or jolly them up with false hope. I'm not sure it will be any comfort to you, but I thought you might like to know.
Reply | Thread | Link



Deborah J. Ross: hands
User: deborahjross
Date: 2013-04-17 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:hands
It is so helpful to talk about how to talk in difficult situations. The same holds true for how to talk to a trauma survivor or anyone else who has faced or is facing a horror that threatens to overwhelm them.

The advice to listen, to hold a safe space, to not compare, is invaluable.
Reply | Thread | Link



martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2013-04-17 19:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
its knowing who you can call at 2am to talk about the weather forecast.

I want your doctors to solve too.
Reply | Thread | Link



crows o'clock: Dandelion Wishgirl
User: sheistheweather
Date: 2013-04-17 19:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Dandelion Wishgirl
Thank you for this.
Reply | Thread | Link



Fluttering Things: batshit crazy
User: moxie_raqs
Date: 2013-04-18 03:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:batshit crazy
http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/04/14/3340670/how-not-to-say-the-wrong-thing.html
Reply | Thread | Link



LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2013-04-22 22:01 (UTC)
Subject: Not my words: "[cancer] How to talk to someone in my position"
Keyword:pingback_bot
User natf referenced to your post from Not my words: "[cancer] How to talk to someone in my position" saying: [...] Originally posted by at [cancer] How to talk to someone in my position [...]
Reply | Thread | Link



LiveJournal: pingback_bot
User: livejournal
Date: 2013-04-22 22:01 (UTC)
Subject: Not my words: "[cancer] How to talk to someone in my position"
Keyword:pingback_bot
User natf referenced to your post from Not my words: "[cancer] How to talk to someone in my position" saying: [...] ntly. But these are a good starting point. Commenting disabled. Please comment on Jay's LJpost [...]
Reply | Thread | Link



Geri Sullivan
User: gerisullivan
Date: 2013-04-23 06:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Many thanks - your short list is full of useful reminders. "Don't compare" is the one I'm regularly guilty of...or, at least, the one I've been guilty of in the past.

Listening is huge.
Reply | Thread | Link



browse
my journal
links
January 2014
2012 appearances