Dealing with Stuff
What if it's all too much?
Unfortunately that means you will be dealing with it as well.
It's normal to feel like you can't handle this
Remember that your friend needs you right now
You can support your friend in small ways
Knowing someone with cancer or who has died from cancer can cause you to have feelings you’ve might never experienced before. It can be quite confronting.
Reading about the type of things your friend or their sibling or parent might experience (and in turn how that might affect you) can be very daunting.
You might be thinking that you’re not able to handle the situation and feel like it would be easy to ignore it.
This is an understandable reaction.
Seeing your friend in distress can have an emotional effect on you. Below is a list of feelings that you may or may not experience. Its ok for you to feel any or all of these emotions….it’s ok to feel completely different to anything described here.
- Shock/Disbelief can often be an initial reaction to the news your friend’s family member has cancer. The fact that someone you know has cancer can be a massive “WTF!” moment.
- Helpless - you might want to be able to help them and/or make them feel better and not know what to do. Just supporting them, listening when they need a chat, being a shoulder to cry on, having a laugh together will be the best help you can give.
- Sadness - there are plenty of reasons to feel sad that this is happening to someone you care so much for. It is a natural reaction.
- You may initially feel nothing. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this happens, it might just mean that you need more time to let it sink in and process it all. Remember, it doesn’t mean you don’t care!
- Anger that this has happened to your friend is pretty understandable. You may feel it’s not fair that this has happened to them, and that’s ok, but remember there are good and bad ways to deal with anger.
- A feeling of loss and loneliness can arise because your relationship has changed. Your friend’s family member having cancer may prevent you spending as much time together as you’re used to (at least temporarily).
Remember, this isn’t because they don’t want to spend time with you, there are just other things taking up their time.
- You may be worried about what the cancer is going to do to your friend’s family member and whether or not they might die. Remember, not every person who gets cancer dies from it. Many people who get cancer survive and go on to live long and full lives.
Remember: If you are feeling overwhelmed and like it’s all too much for you to handle, have one last look at the info below before you make the decision to shut out your friend.
Things That Might Scare You
- The fact that your friend or their family member might die. It’s scary to think that someone we care about might die or have someone close to them die. Not everyone who has cancer dies.
- You won’t know what to say to them. Trying to think of things you will say to your friend might be leaving you with an empty head. There is some useful information in this section to help you with what to say.
- They will be different. Your friend’s experience with cancer may have changed them. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Just because this is happening to them doesn’t mean they all of a sudden don’t want to be friends with you. It simply means they might have a slightly different outlook on life.
- You won’t be able to do the same things as usual. Your friend's cancer experience might have altered what they are and aren’t able to do. This could be because of physical factors due to a cancer diagnosis or time factors due to cancer in the family.
- Being around them will be depressing. The thought of being around your friend might be leaving you with a feeling of dread that it’s going to be all sadness and tears.
The good thing to remember is that, yes there will be tough times, but there will also be good times. Just because cancer isn’t a fun thing doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun together.
- It might remind you of a previous experience with cancer. Maybe you’ve known someone else who didn’t survive and it reminds you of them and what they went through. This can be painful and you might want to avoid that. Every cancer experience is different.
Reasons Not to Shut Your Friend Out
- They need you now more than ever. It sounds scary but it’s true!
- You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If you shut your friend out now, don’t expect for them to let you back in their life when it feels more comfortable for you.
- They’re still the same person. The same reason why you became friends during the ‘good times’ is the same reason you should stick around for them during the bad.
Tips for ‘Sticking Around’
- Start off small. If you’re too worried about seeing them or talking to them just start with a text message, email, or online chat. It will give you more time to think of what to say to them and hopefully help you to not feel too awkward. Eventually you’ll be okay with visiting them and it’ll feel just like old times.
- Make a plan. It can help to be prepared. Learn about what your friend is going through and the things you can do to support them. Decide if there is something you are comfortable with doing to show your support for them and then make a plan to go ahead and do it.
- Just treat your friend the same as you normally would. Invite them to do the things you’d normally invite them to. Just because your friend is affected by cancer doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy the same things they always have.
Simply be aware that they might have to say no more often than usual. They won’t want to say no, but there will be times when they have no choice.
- Try to put yourself in their shoes. If you had cancer or someone in your family had cancer the last thing you’d probably want is the people you care about disappearing from your life. It might be hard to picture yourself in that situation but have a think about it.
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