Throughout the last year we’ve kept up hope that we’d get past my cancer and be able to move on to fertility treatments. Obviously this was not the case and I am now recovering from my hysterectomy and dealing with not just recovery from a major surgery but also the emotions and grief that go alongside knowing I’ll never carry my own baby or have my own children.
Everyone that we know has been so incredible and supportive throughout the whole process, we both feel very blessed to have such amazing family, friends, and colleagues. I’ve often gotten looks and comments along the lines of ‘I don’t know what to say’ which is perfectly acceptable.
What DO you say to someone grieving not just for the loss of something they wished for but for having to go through something so major as cancer? It’s a lot to respond to.
So how can you be there for us? What do we find helpful and supportive?
- Offer to be there if we need to talk (and mean it – we may take you up on it!).
- Hugs (virtual and real) are nice.
- “I hope you’re okay, I’m here if you need anything.”
- “How can I help?”
- “I’m sorry you’re going through this”
- Honestly, just knowing you care is enough. It never has to be an extravagant gesture, just a simple “how are you doing?” will suffice.
- Cake is always nice, too. Or alcohol! 🙂 (See I can still joke!)
What not to do/say?
We are grieving and processing so don’t ask us about adoption or whatever other options may be available. The same goes for comments about ‘keeping hope’ or ‘one day you’ll get a family some how’. You may think it’s helpful and supportive but it’s really just a reminder of what we are trying to move past.
We have gone through all our options and chosen not to pursue them for very personal reasons. With my circumstances thankfully we won’t have to deal with the remarks commonly made when a couple is infertile. I can shut them down pretty quickly!
Overall we have had very little of the latter and everyone has been lovely. Even the nurses on the ward after my op, one of them asked me if I had children and when I said no she gave me a little look and then conceded that it was probably best as I didn’t have to worry about looking after them/picking them up during my recovery and was apologetic about what it meant, my having just had a hysterectomy.
It’s been a roller coaster of a year, for sure. I have a stack of books arriving tomorrow to help me work through how to move on from working towards a family to being childless not by choice. I’m slowly recovering and by the end of the year I should be back to normal activity for the most part but I’ll be recovering physically from this op for a very long time! I’m starting to plan bits for when I’m better -mostly what exercise I can do because wow do you take for granted that you can do whatever whenever and then when you can’t it’s tough!
Everyone’s positive vibes, prayers, and virtual hugs are helping, I’ve never felt more supported and loved than I do now.