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JoeDavola

Helping A Friend

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I have a friend who is somewhat older than me that I know through work (late 50's vs early 30's) who is going through a very hard time at the moment - it looks like he's probably going to lose his wife to cancer over the next few months.

We've known each other for about 7 years and I really value his friendship - he knows more about me than even my parents do and he's been a kind of a surrogate father to me at times because he's far more relaxed and easier to talk to than my own dad. I'm one of the few people that knows about what's going on with his wife, he hasn't told any co-workers or his children yet.

So my question is what can I do to help him? I drag him out of the office for a coffee every day and let him vent his frustrations which I guess must help but I feel a bit guilty that I can't do more, though I'm not sure what 'more' would be. Is it enough just to be there if he needs someone to talk to? Has anyone else been through something similar and was there any particular support that they would have liked?

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Yes, it is enough that you are just someone to talk to. Well done.

Trying to do anything more might actually cause him more stress than he needs at this time. Just be there and let him get all his stuff off his chest.

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Guest eight

Act normal. A lot of people - especially women - will go into sympathy overload when the news breaks. He will have to answer the question "How are you bearing up?" fifty times a day. Just treat him like the person he is, not a situation to be managed.

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Is it enough just to be there if he needs someone to talk to?

Definitely enough.

Act normal. A lot of people - especially women - will go into sympathy overload when the news breaks. He will have to answer the question "How are you bearing up?" fifty times a day. Just treat him like the person he is, not a situation to be managed.

^ I think this is truly excellent advice.

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Act normal. A lot of people - especially women - will go into sympathy overload when the news breaks. He will have to answer the question "How are you bearing up?" fifty times a day. Just treat him like the person he is, not a situation to be managed.

Excellent point - I'd never thought of it like that, but when I think back to when my mum got cancer, the reason I didn't tell my friends was that I didn't want people treating me differently or constantly asking how I was.

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Guest eight

Excellent point - I'd never thought of it like that, but when I think back to when my mum got cancer, the reason I didn't tell my friends was that I didn't want people treating me differently or constantly asking how I was.

When my father in law was dying I noticed how everybody - even family, perhaps understandably - treated him like a medical progress report. He must have had to relay his physical failings to different people several times every day. So I decided to make a point of never asking him how he was, just talking about his interests (pretty much limited to TV sport in the last months). It was a bit of a gamble as he might think I was a right heartless *******, but explicitly telling him why would have kind of defeated the point.

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{has not told} his children yet.

That concerns me.

It blind sides you if suddenly you're told the end is near and could lead to feelings of being robbed of time.

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Don't talk about dating sites. Although, yarns about defecation might actually cheer him up.

Nah he loves to hear all about my dating disasters, cheers him up no end! :D

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That concerns me.

It blind sides you if suddenly you're told the end is near and could lead to feelings of being robbed of time.

One of his children is a bit emotionally cold and won't be of much help, and the other is in university and he's scared of ruining his chances at good grades. I've told him that I think they should be told but I didn't want to cross the line to sticking my nose in too much.

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Guest eight

Don't talk about dating sites.

I think this might be excellent general advice for all mankind.

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Nah he loves to hear all about my dating disasters, cheers him up no end! :D

Well then you know what you have to do. Get right back on it !!

Oh and after telling him about your next disaster - you should relay it here as well. Just to keep everyone in the loop of course.

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Possibly helpful: go round and entertain (chat with) the patient. You don't expect to enjoy it (so if you do, that's a bonus), but you're livening up the existence of someone who's no longer capable of much, and taking pressure off the carer.

Best non-family help we had when my mum was dying of cancer was a fantastic neighbour who did exactly that.

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You're doing plenty Joe. Keep up the good work.

Indeed Frank! He is learning the "Way of Pin". Friendship is enormous. I have lost a few people to unfortunate diseases and events! :o

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So sorry to hear about Mr Balloon.

I am afraid I am more like "Mr Jelly" :unsure:

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I am afraid I am more like "Mr Jelly" :unsure:

Made me think of Hugh Jelly.

It's interesting to see what he, as a jobbing actor, actually does. Vast amounst of corporates and commercials, with some cracking roles:

Naked Bloke With Sledgehammer

Mr Williams ( Farting Man )

Terrible Carol Singer

Started out in 1980 in Return of the Jedi and must have thought "Hollywood here we come", but there's a marked absence of glamour thereafter and this guy (Philip Herbert) must be one of the lucky ones as he's in steady work. Who'd be an actor?

http://www.castingcallpro.com/uk/actor/profile/philip-herbert

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I was thinking more like the "Mr Jelly" the clown, from the Psychoville series. "Keeps kids quiet".

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I was thinking more like the "Mr Jelly" the clown, from the Psychoville series. "Keeps kids quiet".

I'd forgotten that, liked it at the time.

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Spoke to my mate today a couple of times and he seemed in better form, made a special effort to be as puerile and immature as possible as he has come to expect from me. It was nice to see him a bit happier today.

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I held down a full time job while my missus was terribly ill with cancer/chemo for six months. Only took one day off to work from home because missus had collapsed on the floor and couldn't get up on her own that morning, and figured I probably couldn't leave her. Evenings and weekends were occupied with sorting out the household stuff, hospital visits/caring for her at home. Lost quite a few friends over that time as I felt too exhausted to even tell them I couldn't make a stag do until a couple of weeks afterwards. Never heard from them again. The whole period went by in a blur - and at the end of it, you just carry on.

More than anything, cancer is exhausting for the carer as well as the patient. The patient has it worse, of course, but in some ways they are sorted as they are in the system and they have the carer to take care of them. Essentially, they have become a child again. The carer, in most cases, is just left to get on with it.

Offer to give him a break from time to time - and take care of the patient for them. Make sure he takes up the offer.

Turn up with or do some food shopping.

Do some house cleaning.

Do some normal stuff together.

Mow the lawn.

Do some other chore for them.

Drive them to appointments

It is better to just do some of this stuff rather than offer to do it. A lot of people will say "Let me know if you need any help". Carers know most don't really mean it - and so never ask them to make good on it.

Might be worth getting a copy of this for him:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Selfish-Pigs-Guide-Caring/dp/0749929863

Forearmed if forewarned - and all that.

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