The best responses to the news of my diagnosis have all been from the heart, unedited, unfiltered, just exactly what the person thought upon hearing. And seeing as how I’ve told you all what not to say, the least I can do is give you suggestions for what’s okay, right?
These are the ones that come to mind, the immediate responses, the ones from the heart.
1. That sucks.
2. That really sucks.
3. That fucking sucks.
4. I’m so sorry.
5. I’m really sorry.
6. I can’t believe it/it can’t be true (said with sincere shock and disbelief)
7. Unintelligible babbling accompanied by tears.
The thread that binds them is that they are all authentic responses. None of them involve thinking of what might be the “correct” thing to say, or the candy coating of a meaningless platitude. All of those responses allow me to agree wholeheartedly, because yes, it does suck. Yes, I’m sorry too. No, I can’t believe it either. Bawling.
As to what comes after? Take your lead from me (or insert your afflicted person here). If I want to be open and talk, please listen for a bit. Some people don’t mind answering questions about their disease, and I don’t mind answering because so few people seem to know much about it and how devastating it is. Any question asked sensitively is okay; if I don’t feel like talking about it at a particular time, I’ll let you know and I won’t be offended that you’ve asked.
If I’m seeing you for the first time, that’s going to be the hardest; after that we can resume our regularly scheduled friendship. As the shock has worn off, I’m less likely to talk about it or want to focus on it.
And something I should have added to yesterday’s post:
Please, do not judge my response. How I chose to handle this news, this devastating, life-changing news, is up to me. You get your own devastating life-changing news and handle it however you want but don’t you dare judge me and if you do? Have the decency, the humanity, to keep it to yourself. Because this is not about you.
It’s one day at a time with this disease, so this is where this post ends; it’s just about what happens when you first hear the news. One day at a time.
For the hundreds of heart-felt responses, thank you. You may not see your exact words listed above, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important. ❤