someone looking for friends while they hide behind cardboard cut-outs of things

Where Did Everyone Go?

Last updated: April 2020

“Poof”...they are gone.

Have you noticed the disappearance of friends or family? Maybe they haven’t completely left, but you don’t see them or talk to them as much. This is something I have seen a lot of my cancer community peers talk about. How people have just disappeared since their diagnosis. I too have unfortunately experienced this. It is hard and I try to look at maybe they don’t want to lose you or it is hard on them and they don’t know what to say or do.

We need them more now than ever. We need as much "old normal" as possible in our new normal world. Their laughs, touch, or just their voice on the other end of the phone.

Maybe they don’t know what to do. Maybe they feel they cannot fix it, or they feel helpless. Maybe they feel scared too. We have to be compassionate to them the same as we want their support.

I’m not contagious

Cancer isn’t contagious, you will not catch it! Come see me. I understand it is hard for everyone. I want you to talk to me. Let me know what you are feeling. Let me know your fears.

I was surfing the internet on this subject and came across a site on this subject and was reading it. I want to learn how to be more compassionate about their feelings. I want the closeness of their love back. So I will do whatever I can to make them feel comfortable around me.

Researching to help me understand

Below are some suggestions I found on what to say and what not to say. This is something that everyone may find helpful.

"Choose your words carefully. Make sure to acknowledge how difficult this experience is for the person. Carefully choosing what you say can help you show your support without being dismissive or avoiding the topic. For example, it is better to say, 'I don’t know what to say' than to stop calling or visiting out of fear."1

Ways to show support

These are some things you can say to show care and support to a loved one:1

  • I'm sorry this has happened to you.
  • If you ever feel like talking, I’m here to listen.
  • What are you thinking of doing, and how can I help?
  • I care about you.
  • I’m thinking about you.

What to avoid saying...

Here are examples of phrases that are unhelpful:1

  • I know just how you feel.
  • I know just what you should do.
  • I know someone who had the exact same diagnosis.
  • I’m sure you’ll be fine.
  • Don’t worry.
  • How long do you have?”

It’s okay to not know what to say

I have had every one of the unhelpful things said to me multiple times. Maybe if the ones that are shying away from us knew some of the okay things to say they would feel more at ease. I try to not let it bother me if the "wrong" thing is said. What would I say if I was in their situation? I would be at a loss.

I know it can feel like you are blundering around in the darkness. Let’s talk so we all feel at ease.

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