General Question

jca's avatar

If someone close to you told you they were diagnosed with a potentially deadly disease, would you be able to "be strong" for them or would you be a crying mess?

Asked by jca (27953 points ) May 28th, 2010

if you knew someone very close to you, like a close family member, was just diagnosed with a potentially deadly disease, for example cancer, would you be able to hold it together when you saw them? or would you be a crying mess?

i know people say “be strong” and “be supportive” but would you really be able to?

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23 Answers

Jude's avatar

I’ve been through this.

I’d be strong when with them, but, then once that I’ve left the room (their presence), I’d break down.

promethea's avatar

I would do my falling apart in private, and be strong for them when you’re with them. If they have a terminal illness, the last thing they need to be worried about is having to console you.

Vunessuh's avatar

Staying strong has absolutely nothing to do with not crying.
Just because you cry, doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you’re not showing support.
If I could hold in my tears until I left their presence then I would try to do so, but if I couldn’t then, it is what it is. There’s only so much you can do to stop your emotions, especially when someone you truly love is involved.

JLeslie's avatar

Depends. Depends on how upset they are, depends on how soon they might be dying, how ill they are. I don’t usually fall apart when I have been with family or friends who are very ill, not while I am with them, unless we have a moment when we cry together, because we know we will miss each other, or have little time. If it were my husband I would be basket case. I would be strong and emotional all rolled up into one ball I think.

WestRiverrat's avatar

I am currently going through this with my dad. He has renal failure and refuses to go on dialysis.

I do my crying when he is not present.

SmashTheState's avatar

My mother currently has stage 4 liver cancer, the chemo has failed, and has six months or less to live. I’m a pragmatic person. I understand the nature of life (“The meaning of life is that it stops.”—Franz Kafka) and I consider it pointless and self-indulgent to weep and wear ashes in one’s beard over death. The fact that I am capable of dealing with this logically and without hysterics means I can help with the practical matters which need taking care of, including such issues as finances and the execution of the will. I like to think my ability and willingness to be phlegmatic about imminent death makes it easier for both my parents, as they have someone they can rely on.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I could separate my personal emotional turmoil from my support for them when necessary. I would also be open to crying with them when their grief and fear overcame them. This can be important in validating their complex emotions while coping with their doubts and anxieties about what the future holds for them.

Overall, I would focus on their needs for someone on whom they can depend as they struggle to confront their disease and the uncertainty of their future.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I have always been strong for friends and family that were/are terminal.

ava's avatar

I would cry with and for them and be strong with and for them too. I don’t understand why the two have to be mutually exclusive.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’ve been through it, with the woman I think of now as my mom. I followed her lead when she told us it was Stage IV Ovarian cancer. Sometimes she just wanted to talk and I listened. Sometimes she wanted someone there to hold her hand because she was frightened. At one point, I was with her a couple of weeks before she died when she had her first sip of alcohol (from a glass of Merlot) and then openly regretted denying herself the occasional glass for all her adult life (she was raised to be and had stayed religious). I don’t know if that’s staying strong, but I remember how she had been for me, and I thought nothing of being there for her in the way she needed me.

Only when I was alone did I cry. And I collapsed to the ground at the burial. That’s when it really hit me that she was gone.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I can cry with them or be strong with them, I play it by ear, it’s all about them and what they need from me at the time. Alone or with my closest confidants then I’ll do my crying for myself and my fears.

MagicalMystery's avatar

@ava : I don’t think they have to be mutually exclusive, but if someone is sick and worried and whatever other emotions they are experiencing, and then on top of that they have to console you, it may not be helpful to them, unless it’s a mutual crying thing. there’s no harm in showing emotion, but if they have to deal with their own emotions and then comforting you, it becomes all about the cryer and not about the sick person.

ETpro's avatar

I cry pretty eassily for a man, but I have not been a crying mess in my memory. I know I would be emotional and show it, but I am always there to do what needs to be done.

Seaofclouds's avatar

We’ve gone through this twice in my family. The first time was when my aunt found out she had Leukemia. She fought it for a bout 2 years before passing away. The second time was when my grandfather found out he had Lymphoma. He actually fought it for 5 years before passing away. To my aunt, my grandfather, and the rest of my family, I was strong. I was the shoulder for everyone else to lean on and cry on. I did my grieving in private.

YARNLADY's avatar

I did both.

GrumpyGram's avatar

I fall apart/become sick about it when I’m alone. I can’t or don’t act emotional when around them because every single relative or friend I’ve known who was terminal acted like they were fine. Maybe because they consider/considered me an unemotional type.

cookieman's avatar

I have been – 4 times.
Father, two uncles grandmother. All cancer, all dead.

I went to many doctor, radiation, chemo appointments and was there at all hours right up until they died.

Like others have said, I did my falling apart after the fact, in private.

You’d be amazed what you can do when you have to.

anartist's avatar

Would you face an enemy in battle or an invader who threatened your home and family?
How can you know whether you will pass a test until you are tested?
QED

zenele's avatar

Strong.

susanc's avatar

I absolutely regret being as “strong for” my husband as I was. We had a big cry-fest soon after he was diagnosed, and a fight a little later, but mostly we were steady and patient and got the stuff done that needed to be done and had fun when we could. I have a terrible fear that he may not have understood how sickened I was by the prospect of living without him. I so hope he didn’t think I was willing to say goodbye.

Silhouette's avatar

Both, like many others here, I keep the weeping to myself. I’m a rock in their presence but I’m a crying, wailing mess when I get a few minutes alone.

sneakatoke420's avatar

I have also been through a time like this. I think there’s a lot of mixed emotions. Of course you have to be strong, but when you see a loved one in bad condition, you just can’t help but to cry.

augustlan's avatar

I am a crier. I am unable to hold back my tears, but I don’t think I’d be a total mess in their presence. I would smile, laugh, comfort, console, and do what needed doing… leaking tears all the while.

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