Whether you find out you are dying by yourself or with your family and friends present, once your loved ones find out it can be a shock to everyone involved. Though you are the one with the terminal diagnosis your loved one may be as shocked as you. They may react in a variety of ways, depending on their temperament. Some of these reactions may not be helpful to you but you may see them anyway as your loved ones try to process the devastating news.
Here are six reactions you may see your loved ones and friends display when they receive the news you are dying.
#1 Shock And Disbelief
Shock can be expressed in many different ways. Like you, your loved ones may react in many different ways when they are in shock. They may go silent or stare off into the distance. Though you may try to rouse them, they may have no words to express their sheer grief at the devastating news. Most likely, so many emotions and thoughts will be crashing around their heads they will have no words until later.
Another reaction to shock may be seen with relatives or friends who suddenly seem to be extremely busy. They may constantly fluff your pillows, leave the room to get your favorite snack or research extensively to ensure you get the best care possible. This level of frenetic behavior may help them avoid the reality of your imminent death and all the feelings they will have to deal with as they watch you struggle with something they can’t fix. Their frenzied behavior may be tiresome to you while you attempt to absorb your diagnosis, but they are coping in the best way they can.
As your loved ones, including your friends, go through their own grieving process, it is helpful to remain patient. Though the diagnosis is not their own, their love for you is immense. They also need time to absorb the news and the freedom to react in their own way. Know that these variety of reactions are because they love you very much.
#2 Pretending Everything Is Fine
Many of your loved ones will try hard to keep their feelings from you. They may bottle them up and only display them when you are not around. Their faces may look stoic and their voices may become monotone. Still, others may become overly cheerful in an attempt to find the silver lining in your diagnosis. Though their goal is to not ruffle your feathers, this lack of response or overly cheerful behavior may make you feel you cannot talk openly with them, that they are not being realistic, or that they don’t care.
When you feel you can’t be honest with them, you may become angry, because their denial blocks your honest expression. At this stage, they are struggling very much with your diagnosis and don’t know how to handle it. They want to make you feel better but are also in denial themselves. Down the road, they may move from denial, but right now, they need more time to process the diagnosis.
#3 Arguments Between You And Your Loved Ones
Oftentimes, when emotions are running high and nearly at their breaking point, there may be an increase in arguments. You may argue with your loved ones and friends, and they may argue amongst themselves. Misunderstands may crop up like weeds and no one will truly know where the conflict came from. Most of these conflicts are just an expression of intense emotions, helplessness, and grief. To cope with this behavior, your loved ones, friends, and yourself will need to discuss ways to work together and created a more relaxed environment that will allow your emotions to settle.
#4 Having No Idea What To Say
Some friends or loved ones may stop contacting you. Though they love your very much they may have no idea how to deal with the news. Not hearing from them can be very difficult and saddening, but it’s possible they are unable to cope. To try and help them deal with your diagnosis you could contact them and ask for assistance with a specific task. This may give them the perfect chance to feel useful and become more comfortable with your situation. With an excuse to help you they may be able to bypass the need to say anything and enjoy the process of improving your quality of life.
Another scenario when dealing with a loved one or friend who may be pulling away due to difficult coping is to give them time and space to absorb the news and understand its ramifications.
#5 Anger With Others
Relatives, especially, may show a lot of anger. This may be directed at doctors, nurses, God, or even you. They may be mad at the doctors or hospital if they feel your care isn’t what it should be or questions are unanswered. Their anger may be directed at you if they believe you aren’t fighting hard enough or you are giving up.
When you are exhausted from the illness and its treatment, dealing with anger can be very hard, but oftentimes, this anger comes from your loved one’s fears. They may be avoiding the real emotions related to your diagnosis or be afraid of death.
Their anger isn’t an expression of dislike for you, or lack of caring for your situation, it is more likely due to their fear of losing you and the shock of your diagnosis.
#6 Doing Everything For You
Another common reaction of loved ones or friends is over-protectiveness. People who react this way will attempt to do everything for you. They will jump to provide whatever you need. Though their intentions come from the best place, this can become frustrating and elicit anger as they take over everything. In this case, it is best to calmly reassure them you can do for yourself.
The reactions of your loved ones will vary. Though they may look vastly different, they are all expressions of their love and grief for you.