Saturday, 12 January 2013

Open Mouth, Insert Both Feet

I had lunch with Joan and Malcolm the other day and we got to talking about what people say to those of us who are widowed or have cancer. Two of us have had cancer, all of us have been widowed.

So to people who have cancer try not to say

How long have they given you?
How is your cancer?
God is with you. ( Not in my case, I'm an atheist.)
Positive thinking helps. ( no, it bloody doesn't)
You are very brave ( like it's optional )
It could be worse. (Thanks)

The best thing I got from my surgeon was
This was not your fault.

I think this is increasingly rare as we are blamed for cancer, strokes, heart attacks.

And my Macmillan nurse when I telephoned, panicking about what I should and shouldn't do, eat etc.
Go out and enjoy your life.

For those who are widowed don't say

I know how you feel. My wife went on holiday for two weeks without me.
You'll find somebody else. ( Joan and Malcolm did. I'm still waiting for Brad Pitt.)
We had sex three times the other night.
Can't your friends find you a nice man?
Haven't you got over it yet ?( this was after six months What is grief, a stile?)
Do you want to go to bed with me?  You must be missing sex.
My wife and I haven't slept together for years.
Come and have dinner with us ( I fell into this trap a couple of times and had excruciating evenings with men I didn't want who didn't want me.)

And things you wish people would say

Save me the last dance.
I've bought you a bottle of pink champagne.
Can I walk your dog/do your shopping/take you out for an hour to a nice cafe for tea and buns?

And of course the worst thing of all that you can say is nothing.


  1. I would have settled for tea and buns!

  2. I haven't had cancer, Liz, but I have been widowed and when I went back to choir after the Xmas break - when Pip died - what was so lovely was when people came and gave me a cuddle and said, "It's so nice to see you." So I would add that to the list! xx