Help Literacy Hub

The essential role played by friends and family

AUTHOR: Dr Susan Palmer

A few years ago I was working as a psychologist supporting people with cancer and I sat down with a woman who had just finished her last chemotherapy treatment.

You would expect this to be a happy time – triumphant even – but the first thing she said to me after enduring months of horrid treatment was ‘I wish I was dead’.

She went on to explain that she feels there is no point being alive when she has lost all of her friends, her place within her local community, and she has no one who understands what she has just lived through…

You see, throughout her very lengthy cancer journey, friends had fallen away.

They were busy with their own lives, embarrassed by what the illness was doing to her, ashamed by their own feelings of helplessness, unsure what to say or how to say it… and so they simply avoided her. And now, here she was at the end of this life-changing experience and she felt totally alone. She did not know how to reconnect with these people and build up her community again.

Friends, family and community play an ESSENTIAL role in supporting people going through tough times. Humans thrive on connection with others. We need to know that people care about us and that someone ‘has your back’ when times get tough.

So – next time you hear about someone you know doing it tough and wonder what you can do to help, know this…

You don’t need to ‘fix it’, you can’t take the pain away, you don’t need to have the ‘right thing’ to say – you just need to be there for them. ❤️

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