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Need help on appropriate response....


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17 replies to this topic

#1 Ireckon

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:47 AM

I have just received a text from some one I have known for 20 odd years. Not close, but we text every once in a while, chat on FB etc. Anyway, the text basically said this person has a terminal medical issue, and has only months left. I don't know how to respond to this, I don't want it to sound pitying or trite, or play it down. This person is married with kids.

I keep writing something along the lines of 'very sorry to hear that' but it just doesn't seem like its enough. I can usually handle social etiquette well, but right now, today, I am a bit lost as to how to respond. I have never met their partner or kids, ( it's someone form early high school yrs).

Simple and to the point is the best here, right?

#2 Cranky Old Woman

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:51 AM

I would phone rather than text.

#3 emwill

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:52 AM

Something along the lines of "Thinking of you and your family, if you need anything just let me know".
Definitely a hard one sad.gif

#4 Rachaelxxx

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

That really is terrible news, I would call them, I know that wouldn't be an easy thing to do.

#5 LittleRB

Posted 18 January 2013 - 09:55 AM

Don't worry about 'along the lines'... just say what you feel. "I'm devastated to hear this news. Would love to come and see you. Is there anything I  can do, want to be there for you if i can".

I would agree a phone call is nicer but considering they sent you a text with the news, I assume they may not be up for phone calls. Sometimes it's easier to discuss things via text as you have time to compose a response rather than break down during a phone call.

So sorry to hear about your friend OP.

#6 Ireckon

Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:01 AM

QUOTE (Mo2k @ 18/01/2013, 10:48 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That's terrible news. Can you not call them instead of texting?

I understand this, but 100% of our contact has been via FB/SMS, so to ring now feels odd as well. Plus I just got another text saying how they hate that everyone keeps ringing to say how are you doing today. So am going to go with the text, let me know if there is anything you need. I usually try my best to keep a bit of humour (similar to Pacey from Dawsons Creek in the last episode, anyone??) and be open about the illness, rather than pretend its all ok.

It's also ( selfish response here ) confronting that someone my age, with a family and all, is going to die.

#7 MrsWidget

Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:04 AM

I'm so sorry, I can't begin to imagine what you're going through. I'm here if you need anything, even just an ear.

#8 tres-chic

Posted 18 January 2013 - 10:10 AM

I'm sorry OP, that is devastating news.

Based on your update, if the person really is being bombarded I'd go back with a text saying 'I'm so sorry, can I call you, perhaps later if that would be best? I am 100% here if you need me and again, I am so sorry.'

It's very hard to respond to a message like that in 75 characters or less so if it were me I'd save those sentiments for when you do speak, on the phone or in person.



#9 belinda1976

Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:47 AM

I wouldn't text her back, but if you don't feel comfortable calling perhaps send your friend a card or letter telling them you are thinking of them.

Sorry to hear about your friend.

#10 **Xena**

Posted 18 January 2013 - 11:59 AM

Maybe just be a honest. Maybe something like "I don't know what to say but I am so sorry to hear that. I am here if you need any help or support. Thinking of you and your family"

#11 Chelli

Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:03 PM

I'd be honest with how much the situation sucks sad.gif

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, it certainly is confronting when things like that happen to people the same age as you.

#12 JustBeige

Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:18 PM

QUOTE (**Xena** @ 18/01/2013, 12:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Maybe just be a honest. Maybe something like "I don't know what to say but I am so sorry to hear that. I am here if you need any help or support. Thinking of you and your family"

I would do something like this too.

They have made a point of telling you via text that the phone calls are bothering them, so dont add to it by calling (even if you want to).

Just send a text once a week or something, with "you're in my thoughts. xx" type messages.

When my friend had cancer last year, she often said these messages were the best as she could read them over and over again.

I also agree with sending a gift or card of some sort.

#13 Lyra

Posted 18 January 2013 - 12:36 PM

After we got my son's diagnosis the best responses were the ones acknowledging the total sh*ttiness of the situation. I got really, really annoyed with people that questioned whether or not the diagnosis was actually correct, people who kept going on and on about 'medical advances' etc etc

I agree with messages every now and again with 'thinking of you' is a good one

I am sorry your friend is going through this

#14 Tall Poppy

Posted 18 January 2013 - 01:21 PM

I would acknowledge how crap it is an then offer help or that you're up for a chat if need be.

I would text as it ma be too much for the person to handle at the moment to tal on the phone but, perhap suggest in the text that you can call if they'd like or they can call you wnenever needed.

I'm sorry you received such terrible news, OP.

#15 epl0822

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

One of the best advice I've received regarding similar situations is that it's ok to acknowledge you don't even know what to say in such a terrible situation. It's not your initial response that they will remember, but your continued actions afterwards.

#16 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:18 PM

I had a similar situation a few years back.  My first response was a text along the lines of
"Crap, I didn't expect the news of your last message.  I don't know what to say - nothing I say is going mean much in the face of what you're going through.  I am so sorry to hear that. I am here if you need any help or support. I would like to help - you are a good mate, you mean a lot to me.  I'll call you in a few days (won't that shock you?!)" or something like that  (I could have even started it off with "****! ...."

And I did.  I called her about a week later (selfishly, it gave me time to process it all a bit before speaking with her).  First time I'd spoken to her directly in over 15 years.  I couldn't help much - she lived interstate.  But she was stoked that I called.  And she was glad I didn't called immediately - she'd sent out quite a few similar texts that day and was drowning under all the calls that happened within 24 hours afterwards.  Breaking the news to people is very hard.

Just be honest - you are shocked by her news, it's crappy news, you can't imagine how she is feeling, you are thinking of her and her family.

Edited by YodaTheWrinkledOne, 18 January 2013 - 02:20 PM.


#17 Jax12

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:34 PM

I think Yoda's example is excellent.  I'd probably also start it with an f bomb because that would be my honest reaction and I think that's the best approach.

What an awful situation.  Don't feel bad for your "selfish" response.  My friend's father was diagnosed with lung cancer (non smoker) and my first thought was that I was glad that it wasn't happening to my family.  I was shocked and ashamed that that thought appeared so immediately.

#18 MummyIHK

Posted 18 January 2013 - 02:48 PM

I agree with Lyra, after we lost our girls there were times were I didn't want advice, I just wanted someone to say to me that is bs and totally unfair that you lost your girls.

I would probably write something along the lines of;

I am so sorry to hear your news.  I know that there is nothing I can say or do to make this any easier for you and your family but I just want to let you know you are in my thoughts (and prayers).  Please let me know if there is anything I can do.

I am really sorry that you are facing this situation op.





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