Do we really know how to help a loved one or friend when they’re facing a serious diagnosis? Do we know what to say or what to do?  How many times have we been in the room when someone says something so awkward, we just want to run for the door?

We can’t get enough good advice on this type of care giving because according to a survey done by the Center to Advance Palliative Care, 70 percent of us will care for a seriously ill friend or family member at some point in our lives. 

‘Real Simple’ …a wonderful magazine has done the work for us in a article on this very subject.  Here’s a few examples of care giving 101 that will guide us in the right direction.

An offer to ‘help’ isn’t enough in this situation.  It is suggested that we need to be specfic in our offer.  Find out what will really help make the patients’ life a little easier and take-it-on.  If your offer is declined, many times over, take the hint and step back…some times the patient really means ‘No thanks.”

Phyllis Kosminsky, a PhD., a psychotherapist at the Center for Hope in Darien, CT., reminds us we need to follow through too.  When the diagnosis is new, it’s typical for many friends to offer help, but as the days turn into weeks and months, that help tends to drop off….don’t stop offering. 

Try to keep it ‘normal.’  Friends need friends to be themselves…just like they were before the diagnosis.  Try not to let the diagnosis change the way you around your friend or loved one.

Watch your emotions.  I cried plenty of times around Leroy, but there was always a good reason for it.  A bad scan, a scary procedure or just a bad day, but for the most part I let him guide me on the emotional side of his cancer.  

Probably the most important point in this article is the “what not to say” list.  It seems so obvious what not to say but eveything mentioned actually was said in our home and more than once!!!  There were times when I would cringe just listening to a well-meaning friend make a bad situation worse….

“My aunt Mary had that and…..” It always ended well for the aunt Mary’s in the world.   We aren’t all that lucky.

“How long did they give you?”  Seriously?!!!

“You need to stay positive.”  Thanks for the advice.

“Stepping-up” is important…’stepping-in-it’ is something we all need to avoid.

 

 

 

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