This past summer, I was chatting with my friend Audrey, of lovealwaysaudrey.com, about how she personally struggles with what to do and say when something bad happens to someone she loves. And you know what? It's common to feel confused during tough seasons. I spoke more with Audrey about showing empathy and giving meaningful gifts.
Here's a little snippet of our conversation:
"What are some other ways you recommend people to support a friend going through a hardship like cancer?
Be there and Love. That is what I suggest. There is never really the exact right thing to do or say when life gets ugly, so I think people just get scared and start trying to dish out advice, saying things like “hang in there” or “you got this,” which isn’t always helpful. Sometimes just being present, and loving them where they are is the best thing to do. We’ll never truly know what it’s like to be in their shoes, and the anxiety that comes with such a scary diagnosis. As women, we want to get up and start doing things on a checklist – organizing, planning, etc… which is all great, but sometimes just being that “3am phone call friend” who will be there to listen in the middle of the night is the best kind of support you can offer.
What do you think some of the most common misconceptions are when it comes to supporting people dealing with cancer?
People assume our friends and family going through treatment don’t want to talk about it or that they know exactly what they need when they need it. I can tell you first hand that going through treatment can be very lonely and these people have much to talk about. I say just meet them where they are, and love them. If they want to cry, cry with them, if they want to scream, you scream too. There are so many feelings and so many ups and down when it comes to cancer, that it can be confusing. (You can also try gifting your loved one an art therapy journal for cancer fighters)
Open ended questions like “let me know if you need anything” (although well intended) lead to a lot more stress than necessary. It leaves your loved one with the stress of thoughts like “am I asking too much?”, “am I being a burden?”, “does she really have time for this” etc. Instead, try “Can I bring over some dinner Tuesday?” or “Can I come do some laundry/sit with you/hang out”, or “take your kids to the movies Friday night.” Giving your friend or loved one a simple question to say yes or no to is easier than having them come up with a task, and time, etc. Of course, don’t be offended if you don’t hear back right away… understand that your loved one is being bombarded with questions, and voicemails, and texts, and their silence is actually just being overwhelmed. Text them again in a few days anyway, or end a text with “don’t worry about texting me back, I just wanted you to know you are so loved, and I am with you in this.”
So, just be there for them as much as possible; they will love you forever for that, and offering to offload small tasks always helps as well. Those going through treatment don’t want to feel like a burden, but much of the time they won’t turn down the help. So please offer your love and support!" (If you can't always physically be there for them, this blanket helps you remind them how much you care.
Thank you so much to Audrey for featuring our conversation on her blog!
P.S. Are you a supporter of a loved one with cancer? Join my private support community HERE.
STILL LOOKING FOR A GIFT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE BATTLING CANCER? SHOP