Family Friend dying...don't Know What to Do.

Updated on February 02, 2011
M.M. asks from Seattle, WA
8 answers

Hi all....3 days ago a family friend was diagnosed with an "aggressive" form of Cancer. Was told that he could live 3 days, 3 weeks or three months. At 5pm today he was laughing and responsive. Now he is unresponsive and immediate family has been called to his bedside.

Here is the part I have having a hard time with. He is my Uncles best friend. And my uncle has been "downloading" on me. Which is great I have no problem what-so-ever with this. Brian - the friend with Cancer, asked my Uncle to not tell anyone initally when he went into the hospital, but then asked my Uncle to tell certian family members. Now under normal circumstances one would think the Wife of 40 years would be taking on responsibility but well....that aint going to happen. I feel like I'm rambling here sorry. uncle is talking all this on and aside from just being there for him to download else can I be there for him? What do I say? What do I do?

Sorry, I am having a hard time putting all this into words....what do you say to someone who's best friend since he was 4 is dying? My Uncle was kinda "adopted" into this family ...a honouree family member as is were. The "Father" just died less than a year ago and my Uncle was having a hard time but this ....this is going to be such a massive blow. When my mom died I hated the platitudes the "I'm sorry" blah blah blah...but at the same time what else is there to say? I am so sorry for this...hopefully some of you fantastic moms out there can unscramble my ramblings....thanks


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So What Happened?

Big thanks to all. I guess in the end it was just a feeling of powerlessness (is that a word?) lol. Brian did die while with his children and my Uncle. It was a beautiful day here not a cloud in the sky and the sun shining bright. In the end I think Brians death was kinda perfect. My mom dropped dead without warning - my grandfather suffered for years with Cancer eating him alive....but Brian went into the Hospital on Friday night knowing something was wrong....was told to make final arrangements (whch he had sone years in advance) but this gave him a chance to say goodbye. Quick yet sweet with his family surrounding him....too young tho 65.

Again thank you moms :)

More Answers



answers from Seattle on

I also lost my mother..five years ago. I totally understand hating the whole "I'm sorry" routine.

But it might help your uncle to just simply be there for him. Provide that support that he needs. Maybe help him to focus on his own emotions by doing small errands or chores that are menial, but necessary (taking out the trash, doing dishes, etc). You can also try asking him how he is doing..or letting him know that if he ever needs you..that you are available.
I wish I had more concrete advice for you, but I think death is one of the most awkward situations we can be put in. Best of luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Spartanburg on

If i were your uncle i'd suck in every last minute to spend with my dying if i were in you i'd help your uncle by relieving him from some of his daily chores. It's a very concrete way to be there for him.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

Do what you can do to give your Uncle the time he needs to spend with his friend. When the time comes and it's all said and done, all you can do is give him a big hug and let him know that you do feel his sense of loss and let him grieve.
You sound like a sweet niece :)
We all die eventually tho, so we shouldnt let thinking about it or losing someone we love destroy us.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't think it's really about what you say. Just being there is showing your support. You are doing great. I'm sorry you have to go through this.



answers from Seattle on

It sounds like you are doing just fine. Try not to worry about not doing enough. You are doing great. Just being there for him, and listening to him unload on you is a job in itself. He knows you are there for him, and that you are open and willing to do stuff.
If you are still wondering, just ask him. Ask him, is there anything at all I can do to make this situation easier for you? Maybe you can call people, organize food for family, etc.
Just ask and im sure that he will tell you.

Best wishes.


answers from Eugene on

Tell him how much you will miss him. Be sure to call your uncle every other day. He's going to really miss his friend. To your Uncle tell him there will never be another friend quite like the man who is dying but other people will love him and treasure him. And, tell your uncle how important his is to all of you.



answers from Amarillo on

It's great that you want to be there for your uncle. Can you get them together at the hospital or wherever and take a photo of the two of them together for one last time sake? This might be the last memo he has of his friend. You could frame it and give it to him at a later date.

You have my prayers for strength to help your uncle with his journey.

Rock on girlfriend.

The other S.



answers from Portland on

My sister lost her husband recently. The best thing I can do is to say "I'm sorry", to understand that loss takes a long time to grieve, and a big one here, at least for my sis-- to understand when phone calls aren't returned. This IS a big one. My sis is totally po'ed when people call and say "why haven't you called? did I do something wrong?"

I'm sure this is going to hit your uncle in a lot of different ways, at different times.

For what it's worth, it's likely that the friend's wife of 40 years couldn't emotionally suss up the energy to make the necessary calls. Grief is paralyzing. My sister's husband was in a coma for a week, and I never got a call. Other than the call that he'd passed (in October), she's never returned calls-- I just catch her when I can. I'm not complaining, but all that to say, don't take it personally.

And I'm sorry for your loss, too.


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