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mazingerz88's avatar

What are the kind words to say in this unfortunate situation?

Asked by mazingerz88 (18445 points ) May 28th, 2014

I need help jellies in phrasing words for a person that is distraught right now after hearing his mom’s cancer has recurred. Right now I’m not sure exactly what to say. Help-? Thanks.

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15 Answers

jca's avatar

I would say “I’m so sorry. Your mom’s a fighter and you know she’ll fight this.” I would leave it at that. Then I might offer to spend some time with the person, go for a walk, go for coffee, something like that.

janbb's avatar

I agree with @jca‘s “I’m so sorry” but I’m not sure we can assume that everyone is a fighter. I would add, “I don’t know exactly how you’re feeling but I’d like to support you through this. Let me know if and when I can help, (then mention some specific things you might do) or if you just need to vent, call me.”

Pandora's avatar

Remind them that this diagnosis doesn’t have to mean the worst will happen. What their mother needs is a strong shoulder to lean on so she can fight a good fight. She needs people around her who can help with the little worries so she can concentrate on getting better. People who recover from cancer often have good support systems. Then let your friend know that you will be there for support whenever they need some help. As @janbb and @jca mentioned above.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Be willing to spend time with them and help them out with errands and stuff like that. One thing I see a lot of ill people lament is that none of their friends come around to see them when their sick. Don’t stay away. Yes being around someone seriously ill isn’t fun, but they need the support.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

So thoughtful of you to want to offer moral support. Sometimes not saying much or even anything is better than using words of sympathy. In many cases people don’t want to hear all those typical wishes which are undoubtedly heartfelt. Their pain is so much that they may not want to hear anything or they may just want to be heard as they unbottle all their pent up emotions. Even being there in a reassuring way and talking about other issues may be enough to help that person through the darkness.

All the best to your friend and his mother. I hope the disease is merciful the second time round too.

turtlesandbox's avatar

Be honest and tell your friend you are at a loss for words but you want to help any way that you can.

Do you live near your friend? If you do, offer to run errands, mow or clean so your friend has time to be there for his mom. Actions do speak louder than words. Especially during hard times like this.

Pachy's avatar

I could not more agree with @turtlesandbox and would only add that you should tell your friend that you’re there for him/her to talk/listen anytime, anywhere.

Pachy's avatar

@mazingerz88, my mother passed away quite recently after a very long illness, and what meant and mattered more to me than what my friends said or wrote was their simple loving act of acknowledgement.

filmfann's avatar

You don’t need to say anything. Give them a hug.

marinelife's avatar

I second @filmfann‘s advice. The offer to do whatever you feel comfortable with? Sitting with her so your friend can get errands done? Preparing meals for the family?

longgone's avatar

In addition to all of the above, I would remind your friend to take care of themselves, too. I think people need to hear that.

jca's avatar

@janbb: I am in a similar situation as the friend. I don’t put it on social media, as I tend to try to keep my personal life off Facebook or Fluther. My close friends know. I can tell you that when someone described my relative (who has cancer) as a fighter, it was very reassuring to me. With cancer, you have only two options. Fight it (meaning get treated for it) or let it go and die quicker than you would otherwise. I am also not religious, but when people tell me they are praying for her, I find that very comforting. I find any words of encouragement to be helpful. So I don’t think that it’s a negative thing to “assume” the woman is a fighter. If she is alive, she has fought it and she has won so far.

I find that cancer now is a chronic condition, not a death sentence like it used to be. I work with several people who have had recurring cancer and they just get treated for it as it arises and they go on. They work, they drive, they do everything we do. My relative with cancer had it metastasize, and in the autumn, she was in bed, in pain, unable to do anything except get up to go to the bathroom and to leave the house to go to the doctor. She could not cook. She could not drive, she could not even go down the steps to sit outside. Now she does everything everybody else does. She arose like a Phoenix. We marvel at her and we all say it’s a chronic condition. You don’t get cured, but you do get better. It will come back and the question is, will it come back in a year, two years, three years, five years, who knows. All we know is that we have her with us now.

flutherother's avatar

Just say you are sorry. There are no adequate words but it is important that you try to say what cannot be expressed.

janbb's avatar

@jca I understand what you are saying, I just think some people do, and have the right to, give up at a certain point. I feel that saying “s/he’s a fighter” has become a cliche almost. But this is nothing I need to argue about.

Adagio's avatar

When faced with a situation similar I usually find myself saying that I don’t know what to say, if I added anything else it would simply be glib words. If you think the other person would be comfortable with it, a hug expresses feelings that can’t be expressed in words. I think telephoning and saying something like you have the afternoon free and what can you do to be of help, what is needed, maybe it is just someone to share a cup of coffee with or perhaps their garden needs weeding, or they would like someone to read to them, or a meal cooked, the possibilities are endless.

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