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What's the best way to support a close friend who's received a bad diagnosis?

Updated on July 10, 2015
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Anan is an online blogger and private consultant since 2009 in the areas of relationships and interfaith spirituality.

Receiving the news

At one point or another, we are bound to experience what is like to know someone that is diagnosed with a life threatening illness. The line between a good friend and a family member is thin, and sometimes cannot be recognized.

Is needless to say that everyone of us will react in a different way. This is the type of thing that even the most emotionally prepared people, can't find the appropriate words to react. There is a huge difference between relying a bad experience with a stranger, that may or may not have an emotional tied to you. Something completely different is to try to accept not only the bad news, but also ask themselves;" Are they ready for this at home?



The first reaction and its consequences

Is not quite clear why everybody has a different reaction when it comes to life or death situations. What is clear, is that we have to be very careful of what we say or how do we react to such devastating news. We not only have to take into consideration not only our feelings, but also the emotional roller coaster there are friend or family member is going through. This leaves us in a hiatus or pause, we have to deal with their own emotions, and safeguard the emotions of our loved one over the recent news.


It might be quite the shock, to even try to come up with alternatives, solutions, or even a well intended advice when it comes to life and death situations. No one knows or even can prepare for just such events, nevertheless try to make sense of it. By the time your friend confides in you regarding his/her situation they may already have gone through the roller coaster of emotions, and the stages of grief so be careful of what you say, your tone and even your physical reaction.


You have to understand, this was not in the plan, and most likely is a complete shock to everybody. Your support can be the difference between your friend reaching out to you again or shut you down.



Emotional rollercoaster

The emotional roller coaster, that a person that just received the news that there ill or in their last days can present itself in any number of ways. There is not one way that these emotions can present itself, nor there is one reaction that seem appropriate to such events. That's why it's so imperative for those around to be aware, and mindful of anything that's been said, everything that is been proposed, and whether or not interfere with the raving process.


Let's not forget that family members and other friends are going to receive the news and adjust at different rates and manner. I'm not saying that is your responsibility for the welfare of your friend, but it goes without saying that they expect at least a shoulder to cry on. There are universal protocols when something like this happens and not everybody is going to adhere to them. Not because they're insensitive but because they care too much. You may fall into this category and for just a moment feel anger, desperation, and the feeling of being powerless. This may be the most difficult thing, especially if your relationship with this person goes beyond being an acquaintance. You are grieving to, and that has to be respected.

The urge to create someone else bucket list

I know it can be difficult to try not to put your two cents when it comes to the time that your friend has left. Be aware that everybody has a different way of living their life, when it comes to try to dictate what a person should do with their last days is not a clear-cut science. Not everybody is going to want to do the same things or even tried the things that you would want to do if you were in their place. What do I mean mother that? Simple, because you would want to climb on Mount Everest, that doesn't mean that this person would. It can be rather annoying when a group of people wants to push you to do things you don't want to do with the time that you have left, without even asking what your wishes are.


That simple question of what they want to do with their last days is sometimes very inappropriate because in reality we never know when we are going to die. The only thing that is certain is that everybody has a different view of what happiness, accomplishment and fulfillment is. That goes too with spirituality, even if we think we know a person we never know what they truly hold sacred and that to has to be respected.

Accepting reality vs creating an alternate one

No one really knows the outcome of things. Especially when it comes to how long we have on this earth. Or how we should live those last days. That's the reason that we have to keep in mind when it comes to planning our life. We grieve when someone leave us not because they left, but because how much are going to miss him in the end. That goes to the way we live our life, and how we decide to spend that borrowed time. In reality no one ever knows, and each day is a blessing that very few recognize. Very few people in the world know how to live, and fewer know how to die with dignity. That leaves us with a choice. Every day is precious, every moment is sacred and that's why has to be cherished. It doesn't matter if his seven days, or hundred years.

If I die Young

© 2015 Anan Celeste

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    • ananceleste profile image
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      Anan Celeste 22 months ago from California

      You're right teaches listening is a gift that few can manage to provide in such cases. The quiet moments are the most powerful. Where words are not needed, silence grants the space for acceptance.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 22 months ago

      Your thoughts on this subject cause one to reflect. Yes, we cannot fully know what someone is experiencing or what they value. I've discovered listening is the best I can do for a friend in some situations.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 22 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      This is a difficult subject and I am no expert. This is my opinion only. I believe reincarnation forms a framework for such events as a bad diagnosis or in the case of a friend, a birth defect. Both my father and brother were born mentally ill. The only explanation I have found is with reincarnation. We make agreements with other spiritual entities when we choose our bodies. We incarnate for a purpose. Thoughts are things, our mind produces our bodies over several lifetimes. Learn to forgive others.

    • ananceleste profile image
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      Anan Celeste 22 months ago from California

      Thank you Blossom as always sweetie.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 22 months ago from Victoria, Australia

      I'm surprised that I'm the first to comment here, as I think this is a topic that concerns many of us these days, and something that we need to think about, so that we can respond in a helpful way. Thank you for writing about this!

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 22 months ago from Houston, TX USA

      It may help to remember there is an afterlife. We come into this plain of existence to learn something and then our energy body detaches with what we learned. Our emotions hold what we learned.

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