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To not know what to say to my friend

(50 Posts)
catgirl1976 Sat 12-Mar-16 20:08:31

My friend's dad is dying. He's had a short, but sadly terminal illness.

She texted me to say she wasn't going to be able to see me this weekend as planned as he doesn't have long left at all.

She's only in her early 30s, so young to lose a parent. She also had another very tragic loss some years ago so she's had a lot to deal with.

I don't know what to say to her or how to support her. I've said she can call me or come round any time or I will come to her day or night and I've asked if there is anything practical I can do for her (cooking some meals, looking after the dog etc). Ive told her I love her and that I'm sorry.

But I just don't know what to say, or how often to contact her (lots? leave her be?)

Does anyone have anything they found helpful (or the opposite to avoid) at a time like this?

Onlyonce Sat 12-Mar-16 20:28:00

You sound like an amazing friend.

You have told her you are there when she needs you. I know it can be hard to judge how often to contact, but I think just go with gut instinct as you know her, MN doesn't.

Maybe make some meals she could freeze and warm up when she wants them? Leave in portion sized pots and just leave them on her step when you know she is in?

Does she have children? Could you offer to help out with practical stuff? Shopping? Taking kids somewhere?

Onlyonce Sat 12-Mar-16 20:30:42

Some times you don't need to say anything. It is really hard to find the words seeing someone you obviously care about struggling. I am sure she appreciates your friendship

WonderingAspie Sat 12-Mar-16 20:34:44

I have just been through this with my friend. I am absolutely rubbish at this sort of thing so can't offer advice. I just told her to ask me for anything she needed/wanted and don't be afraid to ask, told her if she needed me to pick DCs up I could and I make sure I ask her how she is doing without wittering on about inane crap (which is my default position when I feel awkward and uncomfortable). I also make sure I text just to let her know I am thinking of her.

catgirl1976 Sat 12-Mar-16 20:35:53

I think I'll do that re the food. I'll text her once a day just saying I'm thinking of her but she doesnt need to text back and then in the week I'll drop some food round. If she's not in or doesn't feel like answering the door to people I'll just leave it on the step as you say

Thank you

Pancakeflipper Sat 12-Mar-16 20:37:26

Send her a text every morning? Just to let her know you are thinking of her and there for anything? She might not respond
I think that would help me each day just to reaffirm there's someone in my corner supporting me.

DaffodilsAreMyFav Sat 12-Mar-16 20:37:58

I was in the same position as your friend at the end of last year. You'd be surprised how helpful it is just to get a text from a friend saying - I'm thinking of you today. You feel less alone with it all. PP is right - you sound like an amazing friend.

springydaffs Sat 12-Mar-16 20:38:14

Regularly text her short texts re 'thinking of you'. Let her know you're there and you care. That's actually all you need to do. So simple.

Don't expect her to initiate contact. Imo/e I needed ppl to be there and to do all the running.

As for what to say - you can say 'i don't know what to say but I care'.

Lastly, imagine it happening to you. What would you want?

catgirl1976 Sat 12-Mar-16 20:41:48

This is all good advice - thank you all

I'll do the daily text and make it clear I don't expect a reply and I'll do the food

I don't know what I'd want if it was happening to me I think I would want to be left alone but I'm a bit odd like that.. I feel like she'd prefer the non-instrusive but consistent reminder that I'm here.

phequer Sat 12-Mar-16 20:46:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Enkopkaffetak Sat 12-Mar-16 20:49:36

I lost my mother in May last year..

To be honest the contacts that meant the most were the short ones saying

" thinking about you"

"I am here"

" Hope your coping"

"I am so sorry"

I just needed to hold on to knowing my friends were there and it helped.

Liara Sat 12-Mar-16 20:51:17

My dad died when I was in my 20s. I did not want anyone to contact me in any way and was best left alone.

My sister was the exact opposite. She really appreciated any and all contact, including people telling her 'I don't know what to say'.

Everyone deals with grief in their own way. It really depends on the personality type. What you are planning to do sounds lovely, but I think the key thing is to accept whatever way she reacts to it and not take it as anything other than her dealing with her grief as best she can.

catgirl1976 Sat 12-Mar-16 20:51:28

I'm verey sorry for the losses people have had on this thread thanks

LaurieFairyCake Sat 12-Mar-16 20:51:51

You sound like a very loving friend, so much better than the stories on here about people who ignore others tragedy or don't know what to say.

You've said everything important thanks

hollieberrie Sat 12-Mar-16 20:55:23

Ah OP you sound like a lovely caring friend. I'm 35 and both my parents died in recent years. Tbh it was mainly afterwards that i really really appreciated friends who stuck with my for the long haul - through the grief, the loneliness, the despair, the lack of any enthusiasm for life.

I did feel quite abanodned by some friends who sent me a condolence card and then didnt get in touch again for months (or indeed ever in same cases! Fuckers..)

Youre doing all the right things i think. Just stick with her for the long haul would be my advce , it may be in the months to come she'll need you even more. During the death, organising the funeral etc i think people often cope fairly well, but then fall apart later when it all suddenly hits you. That's what happened to me anyway.

WishToBeWell Sat 12-Mar-16 20:59:16

You sound like a lovely friend and I'd be very grateful to you for giving your care towards me so much thought. flowers

smugmumofboys Sat 12-Mar-16 21:02:35

You sound lovely. smile

When my mum died suddenly at the end of 2014 a lovely colleague brought me some posh ready meals. It was so thoughtful and meant a lot to me.
I'd echo what others have said, don't necessarily expect her to ask for help even if you've offered. You may need to take the initiative a bit.

Other friends just came and sat with me every day for an hour. It all helped.

TisIthecat Sat 12-Mar-16 21:04:59

One thing I found useful was specific help. "I'm finishing early on Friday - shall I pick the kids up and keep them for a couple of hours" or "come for tea on tuesday" or a food parcel on the doorstep. I found offers of "just let me know what you need" hard to accept because I didn't know what other people were able to offer. Did they mean I could give them a ring for a chat (but not on Monday because they were at choir) or if I asked would they pick the kids up and feed them so they didn't need a meal cooked when I got home at 6 or would they babysit so I could visit dh in hospital or were they just being polite and didn't want to be involved?
Actually the best offer I had was "shall I come and stay for the weekend?" And I knew that food would be cooked, kids entertained, cleaning done, dog walked regardless of anything I said or did and it was marvellous!

Czerny88 Sat 12-Mar-16 21:05:26

One thing I read somewhere, which seemed to make a lot of sense, is not to leave it up to the person dealing with bereavement to make the request for help. So don't just say, "Let me know if I can do anything for you" as that puts the onus on them to ask for what they need when they may not have the emotional energy to do that.

So either just go ahead and do something, such as taking round food, or contact them and ask whether there's anything you can help with.

honeyroar Sat 12-Mar-16 21:09:44

I'm going through this with a friend at the moment. I posted a few weeks ago in a similar thread, but nobody replied. It's horrible. I've not heard much from her, I live 100 miles away. I've initially sent a message saying I will help in any way I can, just say what you need. Then I just send the odd "thinking of you all" texts now and again. She only replies once in a blue moon, I don't expect her to.

marshmallowpies Sat 12-Mar-16 21:09:48

If you live near her, and if she's going to be away a while being with him and later on, helping sort things out afterwards, you could offer to keep an eye on her place while she's away - water plants, pick up post, turn lights on and off. If I was having to be away from home unexpectedly for long periods caring for a loved one, I wouldn't want to have to think about stuff at home but at the same time I'd be relieved to know someone else is on top of it and just keeping an eye on things.

Once you do get time to sit with her, just let her talk, and listen. My oldest childhood friend lost her DF a few years back and I met up with her only days after it happened. I hadn't known what it would be like, whether she'd want to talk about it or not, and to begin with we just talked about normal stuff, laughed and chatted and caught up on things, then when she relaxed a bit she started to tell me what the past few days had been like. We must have talked for hours. It was draining, but I was so, so glad I'd had the chance to be there for her.

BeetrootBetty Sat 12-Mar-16 21:15:21

My mum was 21 when her father died. (She's in her sixties now).

We were talking about it the other day and she was saying she'll always remember her friend writing a letter saying "Dear Ros, I am so very sorry, all my love Jean". She didn't mention anything that anyone else said.

My sister had to cope with a terrible tragedy recently and she said that it helped that I texted her daily asking how she was - I think it let her know that I was always ready to listen to her and that her grief - obviously - was something that I was always thinking about.

I don't know if that helps. I know it's bloody hard to know what to say but I think just letting someone know you are thinking of them does help a bit.

You sound a wonderful friend.

lavenderhoney Sat 12-Mar-16 21:21:18

Text little and often. Make a plan to meet for lunch / dinner. Do you know her df and could visit?

Just text and say " hi x, I know it's hard for you but I'm always here. I'll keep in touch and you reply as you like"
" still here if you want to talk"

" thinking of you" etc

And after too. It's a huge commitment to text daily without a response for months on end. What if you forget and you've problems of your own? You could let her down without meaning to. That sounds nasty but it's not meant to be - just practical and mindful of yourself and her.

"

BigQueenBee Sat 12-Mar-16 21:23:32

You're doing great stuff OP. Not paying lip service but actually offering practical support.
There is nothing else you can do.
You are a good friend indeed.

timelytess Sat 12-Mar-16 21:32:41

You sound like the kind of friend she needs.

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