Does someone with a dying relative better understand what someone who has lost a relative is going through?
May 4, 2009 6:38 PM Subscribe
Does someone with a dying relative better understand what someone who has lost a relative is going through? Explanation inside.
posted by anonymous to human relations (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A year and a half ago, X broke up with my best friend, Y. X stayed in my apartment after the breakup-technically, she was staying with my roommate. Shortly after that, I moved halfway across the country and didn't really keep up with X-it was a pretty nasty breakup, and while we were friends, I was always more Y's friend than X's.
A little more than a year ago, my father was diagnosed with metastatic colon cancer. For having metastatic cancer, he's doing wonderfully. Full remission would be a miracle, but chemotherapy is keeping the cancer at bay, we're handling the bills, and he's able to lead some semblance of a normal life on his off-weeks. It's still been a difficult experience, but I recognize that it's nowhere as difficult as it could be.
Two weeks ago, I get a text from Y -- X had called her to say that her father had died after a four month battle with cancer. I write X an email expressing my sympathies, but not mentioning my father's cancer. It felt like too much of a self-insertion into her own tragedy, and I figured there was a chance that she had already heard (we had a lot of mutual friends). Calling seemed too invasive-an email seemed to be immediate enough, but if the amount of sympathy she was receiving was too stifling, she could deal with me on her own time.
Today, I get an email from X thanking me, but also conveying that she was surprised to hear from me, and a polite wish that we could reconnect at some point.
So my question is this: Given these circumstances, would it be wise to reach out, tell her of my father's current situation, and offer a sympathetic ear as someone who might possibly understand her situation better than most people our age (we're in our early 20's)? It seems presumptuous to say so-my father is still alive. If there's anything I've learned from this experience, it's that a family member's cancer can manage to change your life in ways that you wouldn't have even thought about before-the same must happen with death. On the other hand, I've gone through half of the fear and grieving, and at least understand what the past four months have been like for her. For those who have lost a close relative, would talking to someone in my situation have helped you at all?