It is never nice to hear bad news, but when someone you love receives a difficult diagnosis, it can be truly heartbreaking.
While you will be understandably feeling a wide range of emotions, including shock, fear, distress, and anger, it is important that you turn your efforts towards supporting your family member or friend during this challenging time.
You are far from alone if you don’t know what to say or do.
Finding the words to comfort someone who has just received a difficult diagnosis can seem impossible, but there are ways that you can show your love and support.
Don’t give false hope
Although your initial reaction may be to offer words of reassurance such as “It will all be okay” or “you will beat this”, this is not a good approach to a difficult diagnosis. It is also not useful to tell them to be positive as this could be the last thing they feel like doing at this moment.
Instead, sit down and listen to what they have to say. Let them share their fears, worries, and concerns without passing judgment.
While asking questions about their diagnosis is okay, do not push them for information they are not ready to give.
Do offer help
Once you have had the initial conversation with your loved one and learned more about what they are facing, the next step is offering help.
Depending on what they need to do next this help could involve driving them to hospital appointments, looking after their children, or helping them to find financial support.
It is important to remember that help does not have to mean big gestures. Sometimes, the little things make a big difference, such as cooking family meals or doing the weekly laundry.
Get the right information
It can be all too easy to fall into a Google hole of incorrect and misleading information that can make you and your loved one feel even more distressed about their diagnosis.
Instead, take the time to gather the right information so that your loved one knows exactly what they are facing in the upcoming months.
Ideally, you should get medical information directly from a healthcare professional such as a doctor, specialist, or moffitt.org. If you want to look for information online, then make sure you only visit reputable medical sites that provide accurate information.
Look after yourself
If you want to be able to support a loved one after a difficult diagnosis and in the next stage of their journey, you need to make sure you are looking after yourself and getting the support you need.
There are a number of support groups for the friends and family of people battling health problems, some of which are online, and others offer face-to-face meetings.
You may also want to consider some form of therapy or counseling if you are struggling with your mental health during this time as it can help you to come to terms with the diagnosis and offer you support while you are supporting your loved one.