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Coworker Asked Me How to Say Goodbye to His Dying Daughter

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TimeToManUp posted 8/10/2013 11:18 AM

This has to be the most difficult question I have ever been asked. My cowoker is 50, and his 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of brain cancer a few months back. Things have been up and down, with every seeming ray of hope quickly extinguished by a new development. He's a good man, he's a hard worker, he helped get me up to speed in a completely new line of work when I switched groups to get some distance between me and OW. I have been passing on advice I've learned from SI that can be applied to most situations.

This past week while waiting to start chemo, his daughter had a massive stroke and was rushed back to the hospital. From the short response to the message I sent him today, it sounds as though she isn't going to make it. He ended his message with "How do I say goodbye to her?"

I have no idea how to respond to this. I've learned a lot about empathy here on SI, and I'm crying right now thinking about what he and his family must be feeling, and what it would be like if it were one of our daughters. But I have absolutely no idea what to say...

confused615 posted 8/10/2013 11:30 AM

Tell him you don't know. Because you don't. Does any parent? I can't even imagine. My DD is way.

Offer your support..and friendship. Im not sure what else.

You're very kind to want to find the "right words." I just don't think there are any.

aesir posted 8/10/2013 11:37 AM

Are they religious? If so, there isn't really any reason to think of it as goodbye. In either case, I think "I love you" is probably all that needs to be said.

movingforward777 posted 8/10/2013 12:43 PM

As a nurse working with terminal patients I know that there really are no "words" that he can say to make himself feel ready to let her go...however I would respectfully suggest that as time draws near he could tell her that it is ok to go and find peace and rest...
For some reason many terminal people try to "hang on" for family, but once they hear those words (it's OK to go) they relax and pass away....I have seen it many, many times...
As for your work friend, it will be a very difficult time, and he will need good friends to help and support him through this. Is he married? His wife is a logical person to "be there" for him, but she will be dealing with her own grief. Having friends/co-workers/neighbours bring meals, offer to care for other children while he spends time with his daughter, do errands, clean house, or just give him a break can be the greatest gift.
I'm glad your co-worker has people like you in his life to help him....HUGS

Crushed1 posted 8/10/2013 13:39 PM

His question may simply be a rhetorical one, but if there is a good reply I think Aesir's is the best, "I love you". Hugs to your friend, I am so very sorry for his pain, I cannot imagine how difficult this is for him. ((((friend)))).

TimeToManUp posted 8/10/2013 14:04 PM

Yes, I'm sure it was rhetorical. I doubt very much that he is looking to me as a spiritual advisor. Really I think I was asking how to respond moreso than for a true answer. Thank you all for your time and thoughts.

gonnabe2016 posted 8/10/2013 14:11 PM

"I'm so, so sorry"......

Kuwaited posted 8/10/2013 14:46 PM

I suspect it was rhetorical.

Even so....I think my response simply would have been:

With a father's love.

kernel posted 8/10/2013 16:44 PM

You just need to let him know you care, so a simple,

"I'm so, so sorry".
like gonnabe suggested is just fine. You can also find out if there is something you can do for the family. Providing food is always good, after the fact. Don't avoid him or his family just because you don't know what to say. That sucks, and it hurts and people do it all the time. You don't have to be a hallmark card, you just have to be there for him, you know?

click4it posted 8/11/2013 22:26 PM

Oh wow... Glad you can be there for him. No matter what you say, just the fact that you are there for him means more than words can say. You are a great co-worker/ friend. (((hugs to you and him and his family))

FeelsSoRight posted 8/12/2013 05:23 AM

I agree - it was rhetorical. But even so, I would just tell him like you told us - You have no words, but that you are sorry he is going through this and if there is anything you can do, even just listen, you'll be there for him.

And MovingForward's comments about telling someone it is ok for them to go and be at is so, so true. I lost both my parents within 9 months of each other and they were both always very protective of me since I am an only child. At the very end, I knew they were hanging on just for me so I told each of them it was ok to go and be with those they loved who went before them and that I loved them and would miss them very very much, but I'd be ok and it was ok to go. Both passed away peacefully within moments of me uttering those words to them. I truly believe this is important to tell someone who is ready to go except for haning on for loved ones.

TimeToManUp posted 8/12/2013 10:19 AM

This was how I resonded.

I have to be honest and say that is the most difficult question I've ever been asked... And I really just have no idea. It's not something that any of us ever expect to do; It's not something we rehearse throughout our lives in the event that such a situation arises. When we're kids daydreaming about the future this is not on the list of fantasies. This is the kind of thing you try to block out, horrified that it even crept into your thoughts. Nobody can be prepared for it. You're going to have to figure it out for yourself, unfortunately. But you do have a LOT of people ready to help you through on the other side of all of this, myself included.

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