Language is rich and expressive, but at times of great trial, it can seem totally inadequate.
However, some of the simplest words can bring great strength and encouragement to the family of a child with cancer.
The following suggestions from parents give an idea of what you can say and do to show the family your love and support.
“I am very sorry.”
“I want to help, but I just don’t know what to say or do.”
Families will appreciate your honesty, and will often take your comment as a prompt to tell you what will help them most.
“‘I am praying for you’ and ‘Is there anything specific you would like us to pray for?’ – knowing we have the prayers of our friends fills us with strength to face each day.”
“‘How are the children?’ – Remember that little brothers and sisters suffer too, and that causes us much pain. Let us know you are thinking about our other children as well as our sick child.”
“There is always room for hope.”
“The most encouraging words we heard were, ‘Sarah has an inner strength that will get her through this. She has two wonderful roll models for parents’ (we are both blind). Those words helped lift my spirits when I was concerned about the future.”
“Be understanding and tolerant of special needs (disabilities, food restrictions, child’s schedules, moods and physical appearance).”
“Be as honest and open as possible. Offer help in any way possible and keep offering the help because situations change.”
Ways You Can Offer Help to the Family
“We would like to prepare meals for you on clinic days. What days are you at the hospital and when would be the best time for us to bring meals over?”
“Would you like us to drive Lucy to school and bring her home at the end of the day? We go that way anyway so it’s no trouble.”
“We would be so glad to look after John whenever you need to take Emma to the hospital. Feel free to call us whatever the time of day or night, and we will come straight over.”
“We would love to take care of your pet(s) while you are at the hospital if that will help.”
“My wife and I would like to look after your garden for you. When would be a good day and time for us to come over?”
“Would it help if I come to clean the house once a week for you? It will help me feel I am doing something practical.”
“I do our weekly grocery shop on Tuesdays. Would you like me to take a shopping list for you at the same time?”