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User Topic: Coworker Asked Me How to Say Goodbye to His Dying Daughter
Member # 37538
Default  Posted: 11:18 AM, August 10th (Saturday)

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...

I know we're worth it.
WH (Me-33)
BW (tattoodchinadoll-31)
D-Day: 12/22/11
Together 15 years, married for 10.
Three daughters, 8, 4 and 2.

Posts: 227 | Registered: Nov 2012 | From: New Jersey
Member # 30826
Default  Posted: 11:30 AM, August 10th (Saturday)

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.

FWH 45
4 kids
M: June 2001
D-Day: 8/10/10
Status: Reconciling?

..that feeling you get in your stomach, when you heart's broken. It's like all the butterflies just died.

Posts: 7697 | Registered: Jan 2011 | From: Indiana
Member # 17210
Default  Posted: 11:37 AM, August 10th (Saturday)

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.

Your mileage may vary... in accordance with the prophecy.

Do not back up. Severe tire damage.

Posts: 14924 | Registered: Nov 2007 | From: Winnipeg
Member # 6850
Default  Posted: 12:43 PM, August 10th (Saturday)

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

You can't reach for anything new if your hands are still full of yesterday's junk.......Louise Smith

Posts: 4845 | Registered: Apr 2005 | From: Ontario
Member # 6449
Default  Posted: 1:39 PM, August 10th (Saturday)

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)))).

~~"You can't run away from yourself"!!! Me to my H when he descended into adultery insanity.
~~Prov.15:13 "By sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken"
~~"The day breaks-your mind aches"

Posts: 9756 | Registered: Feb 2005 | From: Texas
Member # 37538
Default  Posted: 2:04 PM, August 10th (Saturday)

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.

I know we're worth it.
WH (Me-33)
BW (tattoodchinadoll-31)
D-Day: 12/22/11
Together 15 years, married for 10.
Three daughters, 8, 4 and 2.

Posts: 227 | Registered: Nov 2012 | From: New Jersey
Member # 34823
Default  Posted: 2:11 PM, August 10th (Saturday)

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

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive." - Sir Walter Scott

In my effort to be *concise*, I often come off as blunt and harsh. Sorry, don't mean to be offensive.

Posts: 8088 | Registered: Feb 2012 | From: Midwest
Member # 5491
Default  Posted: 2:46 PM, August 10th (Saturday)

I suspect it was rhetorical.

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

With a father's love.

"For every trip to the vet, there's a car ride.", Satchel Pooch.

"At some point in life, everyone has gambled on a fart and lost." -- Tad...from Craig's List

Posts: 8488 | Registered: Oct 2004 | From: North Atlanta Burbs
Member # 27035
Default  Posted: 4:44 PM, August 10th (Saturday)

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?

"On particularly rough days when I'm sure I can't possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100% and that's pretty good."

Posts: 5297 | Registered: Jan 2010 | From: Midwest
Member # 209
Default  Posted: 10:26 PM, August 11th (Sunday)

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))

Me: 42
Two boys: 17 and 14
Divorced 12-13-05
d-day 10-02-01

Laughter will cure life's ills. Have you had your laugh today?

Posts: 25628 | Registered: Jun 2002 | From: California
Member # 28377
Default  Posted: 5:23 AM, August 12th (Monday)

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.

Me - W - 48
Him - H - 47
Together since we were 14/15
Married 27 yrs in August (renewed our vows in 2011-H's idea!)
DD-23, DS-15
Separated for 7 mos & were 3 wks from divorce when we reconciled
Happily R for almost 4 years

Posts: 1450 | Registered: Apr 2010 | From: MO
Member # 37538
Default  Posted: 10:19 AM, August 12th (Monday)

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.

I know we're worth it.
WH (Me-33)
BW (tattoodchinadoll-31)
D-Day: 12/22/11
Together 15 years, married for 10.
Three daughters, 8, 4 and 2.

Posts: 227 | Registered: Nov 2012 | From: New Jersey
Topic Posts: 12