OT - illness etiquette

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from mezzogal1124. Show mezzogal1124's posts

    OT - illness etiquette

    Last night I was at a party and a good family friend told me that her father had been diagnosed last summer with a terminal illness.  She mentioned her dad's health assuming that I'd already heard the news from my parents, who are friends with her parents.  When I told her I wasn't sure if my parents knew (because they likely would have told me if they did), she said that she was sure her parents wouldn't mind that she had shared the news with me, but that they had been "in denial" about the whole thing.

    Sure enough, when I called my parents last night it was the first they were hearing of it.  This despite the fact that my mom and the man's wife are in a volunteer group together and have seen each other at several meetings over the past year - and not once did the wife mention that her husband was ill.  Not only that, my mom is close friends with the man's sister, and she's never mentioned anything about it, either. 

    My parents feel trapped because now that they know the news they want to reach out to their friends as not doing so would feel insensitive and rude, but they also feel badly about bringing it up since it's fairly obvious the family is trying to be quiet about the whole thing (I mean, the diagnosis was nearly a year ago and they could have said something in the meantime).  This is a bit difficult for my family to understand because we tend to be quite open about things like this, but we also recognize and respect that people process bad health news differently.  The family may not have wanted to share it not because they can't talk about it, but perhaps because the right moment never came up.

    I suggested that maybe my parents could write the couple a nice note, just explaining that they'd heard the news, they are happy to talk about it (or not), they are there to help in any way they can, and they love them very much.  That way they're acknowledging it, but not in an aggressive way, like bringing it up over the phone where they have no choice but to address it.

    What do you all think?  I'd appreciate any insight you have to offer.
     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    As awkward as it is, news like that is private until the people who own it share it.  A terminal illness WILL be made known when they want it to be so your parents should leave it be.  When it is brought up, they don't have to act surprised or anything, they can just go on from there as naturally as they can.  If they ask if they knew, which the probably won't because who would care at that point, they can say yes, but they wanted to give them the freedom to bring it up in their own time. 

    And, yes, a letter will force the issue just as much as a phone call.  Because, unlike other issues, a terminal illness cannot blow over.  It will be talked about at some point, and there is no reason to push it in any form, passive or otherwise.
     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from mezzogal1124. Show mezzogal1124's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    She wasn't drinking when she gave me the news, no.

    Sorry, I should have added in my post that that my friend told me she would tell her parents that I now knew, and that I would tell my parents.  So, the parents will know that my parents know. 
     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from RedFishBlueFish. Show RedFishBlueFish's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    My advice was going to be to get the friend who told you involved, because she seems to be the bridge.

    I've found that this type of situation is always difficult to navigate and there really isn't a right answer. A good friend lost his father to pancreatic cancer, but he lives out of state and didn't want to burden his friends with the heartbreak of the virtual-death-sentence diagnosis. We all knew (word travels fast), but decided it was his decision. In some ways, I think he wanted us to treat him as though nothing was out of the ordinary, because it was an escape. It's possible that your friend's parents feel the same way. They don't want anyone to treat them differently and that's why they've kept the news quiet.

    This is all with the caveat that we (and our parents) weren't friends with his parents, but that's the best advice and experience I can offer.

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from mezzogal1124. Show mezzogal1124's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Thanks for your ideas, everyone.  RedFish: I did contact my friend and she said that her parents are fine about the fact that my parents now know, and her dad is going to call them soon.  She explained that it wasn't that they didn't want them to know, they just felt awkward trying to find the right time. 
     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from pinkkittie27. Show pinkkittie27's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    it's good to hear that it all worked out. I can't imagine how awful it must be to not only know you have a terminal illness, but that you have to find a way to break the news to your loved ones. I wish you all the best.
     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e. Show 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    I'm glad it worked out and they are all lucky to have you two friends to be the communicators.

    There can be interest in privacy and also a lot of denial. Because of both, my BIL is sending overly optomistic reports to the extended family about my sister's condition. I have very good information from hospice that it is time for people to call or go see her if they want to say goodbye, but you'd never know it from his emails. So I've been in the delicate position of calling people and sharing this information because I know my sister would want them to know.

    So many people just clutch up in the face of death and they can't be there to be friends at the end. It is heartening to read of a group of friends and family who can be supportive without being invasive.
     
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from tibird. Show tibird's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Late joining in on this one, but I'm glad to hear it sounds like the parents are communicating now.
    I can imagine that it was hard for them to find a time/way to bring it up.  DH surely didn't want to tell people when he was ill (thankfully, not terminal, but still serious). We told family of course & I alerted more distant people as it got more serious, just to let them know.  He didn't want to talk or give updates, so I took that on to relive him of the pressure.  This may be what your friend is doing for her parents to let them focus on what they need to deal with.
    Good luck to all of you!
     
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    tibird, good to see you!  How is DH doing?  Still love your avatar wedding photo.
     
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from tibird. Show tibird's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Thanks Kar!  DH is doing very well, he has another scan (2.5 years!) coming up this week, so it's a nerve-wrecking time.  I don't think we'll ever sleep easy when one comes up, but getting the all clear is one of the best feelings in the world!!
    Good to see so many familiar posters on here... wish it was with better news though!  Hope you're having a great summer :)
     
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Let us know how it goes!  Can't believe it's been 2.5 years already.  5 years of scans?
     
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from ambergirl. Show ambergirl's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    My brother-in law passed his 5 year mark from cancer last year. We were all thrilled. Although he will always have regular check-ups, the 5 year mark raises the bar on the cancer not recurring. Your DH will be in my prayers tbird.
     
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from pinkkittie27. Show pinkkittie27's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Good to see you, tibird! Thinking good scan thoughts for you!
     
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from ambergirl. Show ambergirl's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Hi Pink, always wonderful to see you on the boards : )  I hope all is well and give {{hugs}} to Max. 
     
  15. You have chosen to ignore posts from cosmogirl. Show cosmogirl's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Woo woo Tibird!  Good to see you and that hubby is doing great!

    Big hugs!

    Cos
     
  16. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Hey, cos, how are you?  

    It's a reunion!
     
  17. You have chosen to ignore posts from tibird. Show tibird's posts

    Re: OT - illness etiquette

    Hi everyone!  Thanks for the good wishes!  The scan was yesterday & it was another all clear!  I will never get tired of hearing that :)  They told us 1 more year of scans & then only annual check ins with the doc.  Cant believe the end is in sight!
    Congrats to your BIL Amber, that must've been the best moment!!
    I will never forget how wonderful everyone on this board was during his illness(and wedding planning)!  You guys are the best!! 
     

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