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What to say?

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16 replies to this topic

#1 Whattothink

Posted 10 October 2016 - 06:54 PM

Someone at my work has just received terribly sad news about her husband - inoperable cancer.
She has asked that we are all informed but doesn't want to be stopped by everyone to talk about it and just wants things to go on as normally as possible.
I would love some advice on what to say when I see her at work - I would like to acknowledge the situation and let her know that I am thinking of her, but don't want to do or say the wrong thing.
Any advice very welcome

#2 Whattothink

Posted 10 October 2016 - 09:47 PM

Hoping to get some good advice before work tomorrow, can anyone help?

#3 But seriously

Posted 10 October 2016 - 09:55 PM

If she has asked not to be asked about it, then I wouldn't. Let her come to terms with it first. Unless she is a particular close colleague then I might email her later on in the day and she that you are there if she needs a chat at any stage

#4 Ianthe

Posted 10 October 2016 - 09:57 PM

I wouldn't say anything as that is what she has requested. However maybe you could send her a card letting her know you are thinking of her? That way she can handle it privately.

#5 LenaK

Posted 10 October 2016 - 09:58 PM

She has asked things to go on as normal and not to be approached or questioned about it.  

If I knew her well I might buy a thinking of you card and just leave it on her desk.


Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:01 PM

I would respect her request.  She is probably still trying to process and as well meaning as people can be talking about it can be very upsetting when your coming to turns with it all.  Also often you just want to go to work be busy and try and forget about it for awhile.

As things go on she might open up and talk and that's the right time.

#7 Gruffalo's Child

Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:01 PM

I agree with sandgropergirl and would say nothing.  I would act exactly as I acted before, if you normally chat with her, continue to do so.  She probably wants one part of her life to continue as normal.

#8 Whattothink

Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:01 PM

Thanks everyone - yes, a card on her desk is a great idea!

#9 Whattothink

Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:03 PM

Sorry - missed the last two replies - so luv and gruff - do you think best to not even do card?

#10 Gruffalo's Child

Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:08 PM

I don't think I would do a card.  I think the kindest thing to do would be to listen to her request to not discuss it at work and to carry on as normal.  She might need to process it herself, and be worried about getting too emotional if people give her sympathy at work.   It may also be important to have work as a place where she can forget it all for a while.  Perhaps do small things instead, like offer to get her a coffee if you're getting yourself one.

#11 raspberry sherbert

Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:21 PM

For me it would depend on how close I was to her. If she has your email address or mobile number , let her know she can contact you if she needs. If she doesn't already have these I would leave it for now. Maybe a card in a week or 2 with your number or email address later on.

#12 Whattothink

Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:33 PM

Thanks Fresh Start - you hit the nail on the head - it does seem wrong. Thanks for sharing your personal experience, hope your Mum is ok now x


Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:34 PM

View PostWhattothink, on 10 October 2016 - 10:03 PM, said:

Sorry - missed the last two replies - so luv and gruff - do you think best to not even do card?

I wouldn't at this point.  Give it time.  Let her process.  You will know when the time is right, once she is ready to talk, acknowledges what is  going on.  That is time for a card, flowers or just a kind word.

How long that takes is individual, it also depends what kind of prognosis and what treatment her partner may or may not get.

Edited by LUV-MY-KIDS, 10 October 2016 - 10:35 PM.

#14 Whattothink

Posted 10 October 2016 - 10:51 PM

I'm sorry Fresh Start.
Thanks again for sharing your experience, I'm sure it has been a tough time x

#15 mum2brodie

Posted 14 October 2016 - 04:44 PM

I have terminal cancer and I try to keep going on with normal life and I understand where she is coming from.

I think if you can sender her a quick email just stating that you have heard the news and would like to offer any assistance if she needs it.  

The thing is if you are going to offer help you must be available.  I have had plenty of people say to me they would help me blah blah but when I have called on them.  They are suddenly not available.

So if you can't really offer help.  Just send a message that she is in your thoughts and if she needs to vent, chat etc you are there for her.

#16 my*xmas*kiddies

Posted 14 October 2016 - 05:11 PM

Can you speak to HR and ask him/her to pass on from "the other staff members" they respect your wish, but that want you to know they would like to offer help etc and to please come to her/ him (HR) person  and HR person will relay to you what she needs? Kind of like the HR is the "middle man".

That way shes not having to talk about it to everyone but still gets the help she needs iykwim?

Edited by my*sweet*kiddies, 14 October 2016 - 05:14 PM.

#17 Mollyksy

Posted 14 October 2016 - 05:50 PM

Agree with the consensus. I just returned to work this week after losing my mum and I requested the same thing. I could hold it together just but one kind look or concerned face and I'd have lost it. Going through whoever has so far forwarded her request is a good idea. Cancer sucks.

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