To ask what to say to my friend after baby's diagnosis

(16 Posts)
Tigerpaws57 Sun 20-Nov-16 09:10:12

My dear friend has just found out that her beautiful 7 month old son has a serious health condition which will cause developmental delay, learning disabilities and physical health problems. It is potentially life-limiting. I do not live close by so am unable to offer practical support but want to support her emotionally in anyway I can. Right now I need to make that first phone call. I don't want to sound trite or offer platitudes. How do I handle this sensitively and what can I do in the future to support her from a distance?

peachesandcreamdream Sun 20-Nov-16 09:14:39

I just want you to know I'm thinking of you and if you need someone to lend you an ear I'm always here. I'd also make sure that you keep in contact and ask how he's getting on.

peachesandcreamdream Sun 20-Nov-16 09:15:25

It's also perfectly OK to tell her you're not sure what to say but you're always there for her.

Msqueen33 Sun 20-Nov-16 09:16:15

Don't put off ringing her. I'd ring and say to her that you're here for whatever she needs, even if it's just to talk. She might be wrapping her head round things.

Two of my DC have neurological development issues and all I needed to hear was that people were around if I needed to talk.

Wilhamenawonka Sun 20-Nov-16 09:17:31

The most helpful thing anyone did for me when something horrible happened was a daily text saying they were thinking of me but that if i wasn't up to responding it was ok.
You could ask her if she's up to a call

franincisco Sun 20-Nov-16 09:17:53

^This.

I was faced with something similar (my dc got the diagnosis) and I really found out who my friends were. One in particular who I considered my best friend texted "poor you x" then never really acknowledged it again. That was very hurtful.

Definitely ask about him regularly and just be a shoulder for her to cry on.

NattyTile Sun 20-Nov-16 09:18:52

Don't say

"He's so handsome, it's such a shame"

Don't say

"I don't know how you cope/you're so strong/you're amazing/I couldn't do it."

Don't say

"Medical advances are happening all the time/my friend had similar but aloe Vera cured it/have you looked into private treatment?"

Do say

"I'm so sorry. I love you. He's so precious. Is there anything helpful I can do from this distance? Please know you can call me in the middle of the night if it all gets too much. Let me know how he gets on. Is there anything you need?"

GnomeDePlume Sun 20-Nov-16 09:22:34

Let her talk. This may not have come entirely as a shock. She may have already guessed that there was a problem. Maybe avoid saying things like 'you are so brave', 'I dont know how I would cope'. Avoid religious references.

Things you can offer: an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on. Keep in contact.

Far more minor but when my DD was born, had very bad colic and I had PND my phone conversations with my friend who lived a long way away were a sanity saver.

x2boys Sun 20-Nov-16 09:33:12

what Natty said its not helpful to be told its a shame you couldnt do it etc just tell her you will be there for her and celebrate milestones however minor , my son was diagnosed with a rare chromosome disorder at three and half hes now six he has development delay ,learning disabillities , autism although thankfully hes generally healthy most people dont want pity but would probably appreciate support.

KayTee87 Sun 20-Nov-16 09:36:33

When I'm not sure what to say to a friend in a sad or difficult situation I just say to them that I really don't know what to say but I'm here for them if they want a chat or need any help with anything.
It's ok to not know what to say.

outofdepth Sun 20-Nov-16 09:36:48

I love you, I'm here for you, what do you need?

CouldIHaveIt Sun 20-Nov-16 09:44:55

You have given it enough thought to post here, I'm sure what you say will be fine.

A lot depends on your friendship too. How close you are & both your circumstances. If appropriate you might want to offer to have them come to you for a few days or go to them for a few days, but like I say that depends on so many things. Having my best friend there when I went through something awful was a lifesaver, but anyone else would have made it more difficult.

I think as you aren't near by, just sending things to let her know you are thinking of her regularly is nice. Vary it a bit a text, an email, a card, some flowers/chocolate etc

You'll do fine, just don't avoid her.

Silent best wishes to them too 💐

Tigerpaws57 Sun 20-Nov-16 10:01:49

Thanks for your advice everyone. It is good to know what people have found supportive and what really doesn't help. It is so easy to let those platitudes slip off your tongue when you are trying to be positive in a devastating situation but they obviously don't help. Im going to phone now just to let her know I am thinking of her and how much I care. I'll try not to say too much this time and be led by her if she wants to talk or not. Just need to make sure I can keep my own emotions in check first. She is a great mum and I am sure she will make the best life possible for this lovely little boy but I feel so sad at the thought of the difficulties they both have to face in the future.

MiscellaneousAssortment Sun 20-Nov-16 10:15:19

"How are you feeling?"

And let her talk. People get so worried about what they are going to say, that they forget to listen.

NattyTile Sun 20-Nov-16 11:21:15

That last sentence is exactly what to say - sounds as though you get it completely

Witchend Sun 20-Nov-16 11:41:57

Don't tell her that she must be a special parent chosen to have her ds. The last sentence gets a little close to that.
I had that a few times with dd2 and it really was totally unhelpful because your dc having something doesn't stop another having it too.

Unless you'd always phone her I might initially send a letter. For two weeks after dd2's diagnosis (on scan) I wasn't in a fit state for talking to anyone on the phone. It's like mourning. You're mourning for the child you thought you had while trying to adjust to the child you actually have.
If someone had phoned me to offer sympathy then I'd have probably sounded fine, even blasé on the phone, but would have come off exhausted and cried.

I would (if it were me) drop off at the house a home made cake and a letter saying that you are there to talk if she wants to, baby is absolutely gorgeous and you want to help in any way possible. Perhaps, if it's the sort of thing you do, suggest meeting for coffee when she's ready.

Avoid making her out to be a supermum. It's cringy, clichéd and when you're stumbling through life feeling bruised and very alone it does nothing but rub in what a hard time you've got ahead, and you can't show that you're not coping.

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