How do I help my boyfriend who's mother just found out she has cancer? In what ways can I show that I love him and want to support him and his family?
Since I do not know any of the circumstances or the details of your relationships, I will only offer the following list as possible ways to offer care and support to the family -
Offer to take care of the small details of daily living needs such as grocery shopping, laundry, food preparation, house cleaning, transportation, picking up mail, going to the post office, making phone calls, filling the car with gas or caring for pets. The family will be dealing with major life-issue decisions and medical information will be coming at them like a freight train. They will often have difficulty trying to take care of the small issues and small decisions like "what to eat for dinner". These seemingly small decisions and options will be the ones they often neglect or have the hardest time dealing with.
Be willing to listen to them without the need to - offer instant solutions, judge, criticize or be scared by their tears and emotions. Don't be scared by their silence either and don't take things personally. Families dealing with cancer need to let their emotions out. It doesn't mean they are falling apart or having a breakdown, it simply means their emotions are too big to contain any longer. Trying to cheer them up can actually have the opposite effect. They need to have these feelings so they can move on to the next feeling.
Do not offer hollow words like "call me if you need anything". This family will have so much on their minds they may not be able to sort out their own needs and delegate duties to some one else. Just be there or just show up or just call and ask "What can I do to help?". If you are close enough to the family just take over a task or chore when you see that it needs to be done or is being neglected.
Be patient with these people. Their world has been turned upside down. If they are not able to respond to your calls, texts or emails it is only because they are overcome with duties, giving care to the cancer patient or dealing with appointments and medical professionals. When you visit them be willing to spend time there without looking at your watch or dashing off because you have other "important" things to do. Take your clue from them - sometimes they will want company and sometimes they will not. AGAIN - do not take anything personally.
Hope I have provided a little insight into what goes on initially. Please post again as things progress. As this journey progresses so will their needs change. Your needs will change also.
Wishing you and yours the best possible outcome.
It is such a tremendous sign that you are a loving and beautiful spirit that you would even ask and care about the right things to do for this family. I suspect you are wise beyond your years!
Giving of yourself to these people in their time of need will open doorways into your heart that will last a lifetime. My prayer is that more human beings would be so considerate of each other like you have demonstrated.
Keep on giving. You will receive much more than you ever give away.
I can't thank you enough for your advice. I will try what you suggested and keep posting. I do have one other question. When families are first finding out information do you know if most people want space at first or does that depend on the family?
In my experience, men seem to like more emotional space during times of big trauma than women, who seed solace in talk and touching. I have three brothers and I have loved several men, so I speak from a loving heart.
On the other hand, a batch of homemade cookies is always in order, as is a thoughtful card. We women don't hold back with this stuff, but the guys often need coaching. I guess I'm saying that one of the best things you can do is maybe remind your guy to go by the store and get his mom some flowers or a card, that sort of thing. Guys like to do it, but they just don't think of these things.
Good luck! You are a valuable asset, you know.
That is helpful. I was thinking of things that I could do to help his mom but helping him out in that way is a good idea.
His is a very thoughtful person and in some cases could think of nice gestures better than I could but he hasn't been himself (with good reason).
I am happy to say that they are starting treatment. It's not going to easy because it has spread to her lungs (not that it would be easy without that) but they aren't giving up and I think that was my boyfriend's worst fear.