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Old Sep 3 2007, 02:29 AM   #1
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Unhappy Advice on the right words to say...

Hi Guys,

My best friend was in a serious motorbike accident mid last week. He broke his back in 3 places & nearly severred his spinal cord. He's been in an induced coma for five days now, while the docs waited for the bleeding/swelling on his brain to go down. They are going to wake him up tomorrow, he is only 21 years old & is going to be told that there's virtually no chance of him walking again

Obviously this is going to be a very tough time for him, I have collected a heap of photo's of him with friends & am getting a collage made up that we will frame for him. I want to put some supportive or inspirational words at the bottom of the collage, just a short sentence to remind him that he has heapz of people who are there for him & we all wish we could make this easier for him to deal with. Anyway, I cant think of the right thing to say & would love some input...
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Old Sep 3 2007, 02:46 AM   #2
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Oh dear, I'm so sorry about your friend. I don't think you really need to say all that much, just be there for him.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 03:32 AM   #3
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Exactly, words will never be enough, above all you must let him know and feel that, whatever hapens, he won't lose his friends (because the feeling of loss and the anger will be great with him).

I'd even make a roster to make sure that, when allowed, there's always someone there with him; do this in co-operation with his parents/family who also need support.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 03:47 AM   #4
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Hoe about "friends" or "always friends" or something like that?

Being there is definitely the thing - and even if you feel uncomfortable, stick with it.
Too many times have I heard of friends deserting someone after such a terrible accident, simply because they felt too uncomfortable being around the person - they didn't know what to say so they felt there was no point in being there, etc. When if they'd stuck around, and kept visiting, things would more than likely have gotten better and the injured friend would have felt much better had they stuck around.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 04:19 AM   #5

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One of my uni friends went through this - her brother was paralysed from the neck down right before her finals, IIRC when a rugby scrum collapsed. Rehabillitation will take time, but I'd hope that a civilised country like Australia would have appropriate funds to support the changes to his lifestyle much as they do in the UK. It changes things a lot, but it doesn't stop you being the same person, or having the same interests. My friend's brother still does all the things he's into, although he does only watch the rugby these days rather than play it, and probably sees more international matches than he might have done otherwise. From what I've heard, he's happy and enjoys life to the full, and is generally no different from most of his friends, including getting trollied on the weekend. But that might be a long way down the line for your friend - it's going to be a big thing to accept.

For anything traumatic, anything where someone ends up grieving for a missing piece of their life, it really doesn't help to say "well at least you're not #this#". Don't diminish the loss, just help him make the most of what he's still got by being his friend.

Oh, and as far as inspiritional prose goes? Avoid "footprints in the sand" like the plague...
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Old Sep 3 2007, 04:27 AM   #6
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What the others said. I have a friend who went blind in a farm accident and he was so angry, but realised we were there for him. You don't have to talk so much, just be there. And if he's anything like my friend, avoid showing any pity openly, because its guaranteed to push them away like a bad smell. Try to understand of course, but don't just pity them and go "oh too bad" if you get my meaning.

Inspirational quotes? Hm...I do have one that I use as my guide for when things get tough, though I'm not sure if it'll be a great help. I'm sure you've heard it.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but merely the knowledge that there is something more important or worthwhile than that fear.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 06:30 AM   #7
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Don't be afraid to go looking around for disability support services, without being asked. If you can see what's there, it may help when needed later. Also be aware of the legislation and requirements for the disability support pension.

Expect some aspect of anger, as well, as part of the grieving process. I went through that when I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, so it will be natural for your friend. And don't be afraid to ask for help, like you have here: it may be daunting for you as a friend, but being there for a mate is always important, no?
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Old Sep 3 2007, 09:42 AM   #8
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What everyone else said -- just be there for him, even if it's uncomfortable or he claims he wants to be left alone.

As for your collage, I'd go for something very simple like "We love you"
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Old Sep 3 2007, 09:56 AM   #9
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It's hard to tread the thin line between pity and concern. Try not to show that you pity him or even grieve for him. Instead, be supportive and encouraging. Things will never be the same. You know that. He knows that. But that doesn't mean they can't be good.

The "right words" depend on who is saying them and who is heariig them. Since I don't know him I can't know what would be the right thing for him to hear. Just be there for him whenever you can.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 10:11 AM   #10
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I totally agree with what everyone else has said...not giving up on your friend is the best thing you can do for them. It is going to be hard on everyone around them...with the anger, frustration and the depression...but with family and friends they will work it all out together. As far as saying anything...being glad that they are still with you, and letting them know you are still there for them...and always will be, might be good to hear while they are laying there in the hospital, feeling very alone and scared. Getting together with their other friends and family, to decide on a schedule for visiting...so that they are always having a loved one come by to chat and keep the spirits up, would be very helpful in my opinion.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 03:23 PM   #11

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Default Re: Advice on the right words to say...

Not to sound repetitive, but I agree with all the above. Support without showing grief or pity. Being an extra source of strength for friends and family is the best gift you can give in these times.

God bless and may the worse be not realized, and may true acceptance of limitations come speedily for all.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 05:17 PM   #12
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I work in the medical field and read records daily. The ones I see that make a come back from injuries like your friend are the ones who's friends and family are there for them from day 1--even if it was to hold a hand during a bad night they were there. Even if they don't do anything but sit in a chair they were there. As one record I read that's all the person wanted for weeks and when she came out of her depression--fell off a snowmobile and broke her back when the one behind her ran her over--she told her friends/family that showed up daily that without them she wouldn't have made it.
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Old Sep 3 2007, 11:44 PM   #13
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Thanx heapz guys, for your advice & support

This is the Collage:

His other best friend is making a frame for it & its gonna be printed up on size a1 paper (that’s HUGE!), so when he’s ready, it’ll be something for him to look at & smile… I still havn’t decided about the words, I might not put any on it, I might write him a letter or a card or something instead…

For the last few days I’ve just been trying to be there for his mum as much as possible coz there’s not much we (his friends) can do for him while he’s still in the induced coma… I’m definitely gonna be there for him, even though I’m not expecting him to want anyone there for a while. I’m predicting a lot of anger to start with as he was always a very active person & being confined to a bed will be very hard for him. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong & fight to get himself better asap, rather than fight with the people who love him (which would be a lot easier for him to do). I’ve changed my day to day plans around for the next 6months to fit hospital visits in, once he’s out of intensive care he’ll be moved to a diferrent hospital which is less that 20mins from my home, so that will be good for me (at the moment its a 45min drive to the hospital from home & jst over an hour from work).

I don’t think he’ll have to worry about being alone, in fact I think his mum might sometimes wish he didn’t have so many friends – he had 92 visitors in the 1st few days!!! He’s always been a people person, he’s very charismatic & one of those people that every1 wants to be friends with, so lots of people have been around, I’m just hoping that most of them stick around through the hard times that are certainly to come…

I’m not sure about looking into disability services yet, I think we should wait until we have some definite answers from the doctors. I do have a friend that was in an accident when she was younger that has put her in a wheelchair, she is now number1 wheelchair tennis champion & was a bit of a mentor to me (& has been to many people), so when he’s ready I’ll try & get her to come in & visit with me…

Last edited by Seanie; Sep 3 2007 at 11:45 PM. Reason: Fixed the pic...
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Old Sep 4 2007, 11:50 AM   #14
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Maybe all you need to say with the photos is "We're still here for you!" or something like that.

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Old Sep 5 2007, 03:02 AM   #15
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Make sure that you are there for him in the LONG term as well as now. Alot of time frieands will rally for a while but in a week, month or year they drift apart from him. Do not do that. Let him let his feelings out with you without judgement. Listen to him. Alot of times the person doesn't want to burden loved ones with what they are feeling. But they need someone to talk to. Be that person. Do not be afraid to cry with him or show your own emotions around. He will feel more comfortable expressing his emotions if you show yours. Try not to tell him to be brave or any of that nonsense. Just be there for him. Now, in a month or in a year or even ten years from now.


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