To feel sad - friend notifying people about child's terminal illness as a FB status

(247 Posts)
Eastie77 Thu 31-Jul-14 15:01:09

Sorry another FB post but I'm not sure if I'm over-reacting to this. I'm just quite shocked.

Logged onto FB to see a friend has posted that his child is terminally ill. He has written along the lines of "We are going to lose child x, he has (terminal illness)" There is no context to this in that he hadn't posted previously about the child being ill or anything so this isn't some kind of 'latest development' status. It is really out of the blue.

10 people have liked the comment. I assume they mean to express solidarity with my friend but obviously using the like button in this context is quite inappropriate.

Several people have also posted comments expressing their sorrow but some of the comments come across as so....glib: "Dude, seriously sad news" and "Oh maaaaan, can't believe this is happening!"

I'm not sure why this whole thing just strikes such as sour note with me. I guess my first thought is why would you declare such terrible news on a social network but I understand people use these sites to communicate in different ways. I just find it so odd and incredibly sad that friends are finding out in this way. One of the respondents to the post is my friend's sister who sounds shocked so it almost seems as if this is how she is hearing the news for the first time (I hope not). I'm definitely not going to post a comment but I do want to contact my friend and tell him how sorry I am so was thinking of a phone call.

I work in online advertising and spend a lot of time evangelizing about how online and social media is a force for good but there are days I really wonder...

Altinkum Thu 31-Jul-14 15:04:41

Loads of people use Facebook as a outlet, their is many a page on Facebook about a child's illness (Claudias cause, Charlie, Abbie etc)

It's also a fast way of allowing people to know, it's not what some people would do but when grief strikes who are we to judge them on how they tell people of their sad news.

Batmansbuttocks Thu 31-Jul-14 15:05:06

Your first reaction to finding out a friend's child is going to die is to criticise the way they told you? Analyse and critique their use of social media?

You sound nasty, okay not the way you would have done it but, in the whole scheme of things...who cares!

AnotherGirlsParadise Thu 31-Jul-14 15:05:39

Maybe they were trying to save themselves the pain of a dripfeed announcement; telling individuals one at a time. Maybe it was just a misguided, slightly attention seeking move (I feel bad suggesting that), especially as there were no prior statuses about illness.

I agree that social networking isn't always a force for good. I'd also feel pretty conflicted about this. And the comments are ill thought out.

ikeaismylocal Thu 31-Jul-14 15:05:51

what sad news sad

I wonder if the parents are just in absolute shock and can't deal with contacting people but feel like people need to know. I think at times like these you need to think about the child, and then the parents and child's siblings, if anouncing the news like this is the easiest thing for them to do them anyone elses shock or sadness needs to come second.

If you have maybe 20 close friends and family and you have to call and repeat my child is going to die 20 times and then listen to 20 very upset people saying how sorry they are (when sorry isn't going to change anything) it would be very hard, I don't think I could do it.

ZenGardener Thu 31-Jul-14 15:07:58

A friend of mine posted about the sudden death of her son on FB. He was very ill since birth so it wasn't a huge shock. She then waited a few days until she was strong enough to read the replies.

I get it might not be everyone's cup of tea but they might not feel strong enough for a phone call and just want some space.

SlicedAndDiced Thu 31-Jul-14 15:08:13

I kind of understand your distaste op.

But fb or other social media is a pretty good way of just getting whatever bad news there is out there, then just shutting it off and walking away.

We did this for our late mc. It saved having to have that conversation over and over and over again to tell different people.

Maybe that's why they've done it?

HayDayQueen Thu 31-Jul-14 15:08:28

They probably wanted people to know but couldn't face telling everyone individually.

I know I couldn't.

When I had my miscarriage I emailed my sister, asked her to tell the rest of the family, and instructed them all not to call me because I couldn't face talking to anyone. They responded by email, but waited for me to call rather than trying to ring me.

When I was diagnosed with leukaemia I made sure family new then I posted on facebook what was gappening. I couldnt bear calling or texting and telling everyone. It was too painful.
I could then run away from facebook for a bit, people could respond as they wanted. When I came back I found peoples good wishes a great comfort.

sillystring Thu 31-Jul-14 15:13:25

Having to break bad news in person or over the phone to people is incredibly difficult. In the past when I've had this challenge, I've told the people closest to me and asked them to "cascade" it through further friends and family. Maybe your friend couldn't face speaking to anyone. For the record, I don't "do" Facebook, personally I hate it, but if this has made their lives easier at a difficult time, don't judge them for it.

KnackeredMuchly Thu 31-Jul-14 15:13:26

I think you are being awful.

Their child is dying and they can deal with it however the fuck they like.

Why don't you have a daydream about having a dying child and how you'll do it the 'right' way.

Honestly, this thread is hideous.

I cant understand when people get upset at the way they find out awful things like this. It seems quite a good idea - save themselves the extra grief of discussing it personally with every tom, dick and harry. I expect they did tell closest friends and family prior to the post and then posted. If you were the grandmother, the sister...then perhaps you'd have something to feel sad for finding out that way.

I have a friend who had cancer, and another refused to speak to her for months because she didn't tell her that she had cancer straight away - I really wish people would stop to consider what the person might have been going through before getting upset their feelings have been slighted by not personally being told about someone elses trauma.

MmeLindor Thu 31-Jul-14 15:15:14

I agree with others - for some it is much easier to post on FB to let the wider family and friends know sad news. I wouldn't think bad of someone for doing this - they have so much to deal with right now, that they are just getting through the day.

If this is how he wants to communicate with the world, then you should respect his wishes and send a message back. It doesn't have to be on the thread, you can send a private message, but I don't think a phone call is appropriate right now, unless you are a close friend.

Coconutty Thu 31-Jul-14 15:17:21

I agree with Knackered, I think this thread is hideous.

OnaPromise Thu 31-Jul-14 15:18:12

I privately messaged some folk about my dad's death recently because it was the quickest and easiest way to get hold of them. My db was a bit hmm about it and I was saying to him 'I didn't put it on my status ffs!!' so, I do know what you are saying. I wouldn't do it myself.

However each to their own way of dealing with things.

Sirzy Thu 31-Jul-14 15:21:06

Would you want to tell everyone individually what was happening? have to repeat the same news over and over again? I don't think I would, beyond telling those very close to the family I can well see why a facebook status would be the "easiest" way of informing people.

I think its in quite bad taste to critisise the way in which parents choose to share such shocking news tbh

SiennaBlake Thu 31-Jul-14 15:22:37

What an arsehole of a thread.

iK8 Thu 31-Jul-14 15:23:36

I find it distasteful to prescribe how grieving or traumatised people should behave.

The right way is whatever feels right for the person who is suffering.

sezamcgregor Thu 31-Jul-14 15:23:44

Perhaps it was the ideal way to let everyone know in one go - no gossip, no whispering - it's there, it's happening.

Now, let's move on, how can you now support your friend through this devastating time? How can you help her, her DP, her family - her child?

sezamcgregor Thu 31-Jul-14 15:24:32

His (assumption, sorry)

ArcheryAnnie Thu 31-Jul-14 15:24:50

I'm with the others here - what you (understandably) experienced as a shocking post may have been the only way that the parents could bear to blurt this out.

People experiencing the illness and expected death of a child will not always act in ways that other people think is appropriate, and that's totally fine. Anything that helps them get by is fine with me. They need all the love and understanding that can possibly be offered them, whatever other people may think of the ways that they are dealing with this.

HeyN0nny Thu 31-Jul-14 15:25:24

For goodness' sake, don't phone them. If they'd wanted a phone conversation with you, they'd have called you to tell you. The poor family - they're probably in a hospital somewhere, limited internet/mobile reception, limited time, trying to process the most awful news that any parent could receive and you want to take up the time they could be spending with the child they're about to lose forever?

Sounds to me like that FB post was the limit of what they could manage, and a very effective way of reaching the maximum audience in the minimum time. Don't impose yourself. Send an email or a card offering to listen, offering to do anything, but let them contact you at their convenience, not yours, and as their priority at the time, not yours.

I'm not a huge FB fan but YABVVVVVVVVVU. And incredibly selfish, to make it all about you and your feelings of being 'sad' at the method of communication.

ICanHearYou Thu 31-Jul-14 15:29:00

Well I told the world over facebook about my stillborn little girl. I phoned 5 of my immediates and everyone else found out like that.

Should I have left it do you think? Waited until finally everyone I knew had either A heard gossip or B asked me 'have you had that baby yet' 'how is the pregnancy going' 'how is life as a 4' etc etc.

Nah.

Everyone found out quickly, no need for rumours and shite and the 'hows the new baby' comments were few and far between (thank fuck)

Sorry that is not 'good' enough for you OP, clearly I should have put myself through the pain of explaining my child had died and hearing the words being formed and said 100s of times so as to not upset your sensibilities.

Enjoy your chin-stroking now won't you.

sr123 Thu 31-Jul-14 15:30:05

It's not about you.

TheFallenMadonna Thu 31-Jul-14 15:31:04

You're sad about your friend's child being diagnosed with a terminal illness, aren't you?

Because from your OP, it looks like your sadness is related primarily to how they chose to tell you.

You might want to clarify...

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