Dear Margo, My wife has cancer. We have been battling it for six years, and short of a major miracle, she will die from it. I am not asking for sympathy. We are living our lives as fully as we can, and we are not shy about discussing all aspects of this battle when it comes to our children, friends and family. Here is my problem: I find it painful when friends say to her, "Get well soon." It hurts to hear these words. They sound so phony, as if she had a broken leg. My wife will NOT get well, soon or ever, for that matter, and everybody knows it, including her. I haven't said anything about this because I know these people mean well, but it makes me want to scream every time I hear it. These friends are important to us, and I don't want to offend them by telling them to stop saying that, so I'm hoping if you print my letter, it will help. - Granada Hills, Calif
Dear Granada Hills, Here's your letter, but it won't help. People are going to continue to say, "Get well soon," no matter what you say, even though they, too, know your wife is terminal. Play the game. The phrase is intended to be comforting.
Dear Granada Hills, I think "Get well soon" is a programmed response to any sickness, in the same way that "How are you?" is an automatic greeting. Were I the patient, I might laugh and say, "Well, that's not going to happen, but I appreciate your hopeful wish." People are uncomfortable with illness, so you can imagine what knowledge of a terminal illness is like. I doubt you will change friends' almost automatic response, so take the underlying desire to be positive as a kind of denial. People can be odd about illness. For example, a good girlfriend of mine said close friends would not come into her house when her husband was dying of brain cancer. Go figure. - Margo
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!
Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!
Jennifer Sanchez's Comment
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Our Reader to Reader Question of the Week:
Dear Readers, , My x-girlfriend who lived with my son and I for 16 years died of cancer. Prior before we knew she had cancer-she moved out because of an addiction problem. We did stay very close before she died. Her x-husband an attorney took over her finances and the burial arrangements. I being financially set was okay with that, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.