Chapter 4: Talking to others
Talking to friends and colleagues
I have some days when I don’t to talk and others when I need to unload, but I know some of my friends are uncomfortable with that. A couple of them even avoid me. But I am glad I have some really close and caring friends.
How are you doing?
People usually ask “How are you doing?" out of habit or courtesy. When they ask this, feel free to tell them. Your response may stop the conversation, or it may pave the way for further discussion and perhaps support. Unfortunately, some people can be very uncomfortable talking about your family member’s illness and how you are doing. Others genuinely want to know.
It is important to be true to yourself and not hide your feelings. If you really don’t feel like talking at that moment, honour your feelings and let the person know this honestly. However, if you do talk, you may be surprised at how many people are relieved to listen to you talk about your struggle and hear how you’re feeling.
You may be having good days and bad days, and it's very hard for anyone else to understand fully what that's like. This may be hard to express, but it's worth trying to let others know.
On the other side of the conversation
People on the other side of the conversation also find it hard to know what to say. Usually, they're afraid of saying the wrong thing and upsetting a friend. Honesty from the outset helps both of you past this first awkwardness, and everyone feels relieved that it’s okay to talk about your situation instead of pretending that everything's fine.
It can be difficult and awkward to have conversations with well-meaning friends (both for you and for them) when you feel like you are currently living in different worlds. Think of your honesty as opening a door. People can choose to enter or not. At least you’ve opened the door and invited them in, instead of keeping it closed and never knowing what might have been on the other side.