As reported by Lou Davis from Quora…
“A few years ago, one of the finest and most capable Dr’s I have had the privilege of working with, was diagnosed with cancer in his early 30’s.
This was a tremendous shock, to him and us. The nature of the cancer and his conviction that he would die within 6 months took our breath away.
He was a brutally honest, no ‘bullshit’ kind of man and that was our guide to how we all dealt with this.
Initially, there was a necessary period of ‘platitudes’. We all needed to say, and I think that he needed to hear, that we were sorry. But it wasn’t a ‘gushy’ sorry. It was pointless saying ‘it will be ok’ because we, and he, knew that it wouldn’t be.
He was a practical man. He arranged for his wedding to be brought forward and he married the ‘love of his life’ two weeks after his diagnosis. The way he approached his illness became our guide.
He wanted to celebrate so we were guided by that. We all sent cards, and gifts and flowers. In many ways, he showed US the way in which he wanted support.
He opted for aggressive and unlicensed chemotherapy which he had to fund himself. So we helped him to do that, practical ways in which to show our support.
He wanted to continue working whilst he could, so, again, we tried to help. Not in a patronising way. He hated ‘patronising’, but in a way which left him able to conserve his energy.
When he had surgery, we emailed – updates about the Emergency Department, jokes, funny pictures and YouTube stuff. Again, we were guided by him. He wasn’t into ‘spiritual’ things, so we steered clear of that. Your friend will also give cues as to how they want you to deal with this.
It is important to realize that YOU are supporting THEM, they will have no energy to support YOU. So your tears and sorrow need to be expressed appropriately, possibly even privately where they can’t see you.
Our friend knew that he was going to die, and he knew it would be soon. We didn’t, we couldn’t, argue with that. We hoped for a miracle, but we NEVER expressed that to him, no ‘bullshit’ remember.
As he, inevitably, deteriorated. We kept our support going, but we kept it ‘light’ – no gushing. Our emails continued. I remember vividly an animated dialogue about where teaspoons vanished to.
We supported his new wife, we let them know we were thinking about them, that we were ‘there’ for them.
He died in the summer of that year. He was in his early 30’s. He had requested no black at his funeral. So on the bright August day in an English country church, there was no black. We sent him off in the way in which he wanted.”
Life is short.