What is the best way to support a friend with a terminally ill partner?

I met up with an old friend this week for a catch up. Only briefly, but it was great to see him and have a coffee. As you would expect we talked alot about my wife, and about how things are going, and inevitably the question arose of how can we help you?

It is always a tough question to be asked. The immediate answer is that I just dont know. Aside from finding a cure, nothing else is at the front of my mind most of the time. But taking a minute to think, there are some practical things that are appreciated.

Little things help improve the day. A coffee or beer always help brighten the mood (another plug here….)

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Offering to pick up my wife and help with her appointments, or have her round to your house for coffee one day. This will help me immensely with some down time to recuperate and try to recharge my batteries. Even when we are outside of treatment, and things seem to be on an even keel, it is tiring constantly being worried and having to ensure she is looked after.

One friend has offered to take her away this weekend, which will give me and the children some time to relax and not have the constant reminder of the illness, selfish as that may sound.

When we had times when she was in hospital, someone dropping round a meal for tea was amazing. A small gesture as someone made a bigger portion of their pasta and gave it to us, meant that I had one night where I didnt have to think about looking after myself and the children.

Picking up the children from school when we have problems is also great, and having them round to play with friends means they get to do something to take their minds off things.

Even just coming round to see me and asking how things are without expecting an answer is great. I dont like to talk much about the situation, but knowing someone is there if I do feel like it helps. The fears dont all come out on demand, they can take a while to process through my brain.

Ultimately, the greatest support is knowing that you have friends who have your back, care about you, and will be there then when the inevitable happens. I find that I am being more flakey right now, so knowing that people understand that and are willing to stick by, can brighten my mood.

I worry that the length of time we have had to endure this life, has seriously impacted my well being. Well, I know it has, but to what extent?

I found this on line, and can shamefully see most of these in myself. I have spoken previously about feeling isolated, and not able to commit to meet people or see friends. I have noticed a lack of attention span, and loss of interest in my previously enjoyed activities. I struggle to find my happy place these days, and feel sad, irritable and have a general hopeless feeling. My mental strength cup has become very empty, which is why the things I mentioned above are so important.

I found an interesting article on the following link – https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/emotional-nourishment/201608/helping-friend-whose-loved-one-is-seriously-ill. This talks about the exact situation if you have a friend with a partner that is ill. Interestingly, it gives advice to try and understand what your friend is like, and tailor your support to that. One size does not fit all. I am very introverted, and so dont respond well to calls alot (I have on occasion watched as the phone rings), but will respond better to texts and in person. This would be different to someone more outgoing, despite the situation.

The other aspect is to not feel that you have to give a solution, which is especially true in my case. Just being supportive, and being there is enough to help.

My main take away was the point around making sure you understand your friend and their phsycological make up. I have great friends who do this, but can imagine it would be hard with someone accidentally overstepping when you are in a stressfull situation.

Still as someone who does need help, it is good to recall The Beatles, and when is it not a good time to recall The Beatles, especially as it would have been Georges 80th birthday this week.


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