Author Topic: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?  (Read 5255 times)

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JacklynHyde

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2012, 07:13:05 PM »
Funny that I read this today.  I found out on FB that my cousin was admitted to the hospital this afternoon (his wife posted the news).  Since I'm in another state, I called my dad, who was able to reach my cousin to get the details.  Luckily, it wasn't anything life-threatening but he's still being helf for tests.  His wife is lovely but wasn't sure how else to reach family since my aunt and uncle are on vacation.  Dad took over, let the family know by phone call / email chain as appropriate.  I'm so glad my cousin-in-law posted on FB so she isn't alone.  I need to stop typing and call her.

blarg314

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2012, 08:35:06 PM »

I can see why someone would do that. Telling people you have a serious illness is difficult.

But doing it the way it was done in the OP is really, really, cruel to people who care about you - dropping a bomb, and then running away so they have to deal with the follow up with minimal information and no contact.

If you can't bear to do it in person, then write an email that includes pertinent details, and send it with apologies for not phoning/talking in person. Or you have your spouse or someone similar do the calls. If you can't bear to do that, then you don't make a general Facebook announcement until you can.



Isometric

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2012, 08:57:09 PM »
He was probably dreading telling people, and possibly worried that he could be seen as "weak" if he is feeling emotional about it. Maybe he didn't want to cry or get upset in front of his son.

Or maybe he's trying to be lighthearted about it so as to try to play it down?

Either way, of course people are going to be hurt being told this way. I hope he gets better soon. He will be needing all the love and support he can get at the moment.

kitchcat

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2012, 10:39:57 PM »
I do think your DH's reaction was inappropriate though.

How is becoming emotionally upset when faced with the sudden possibility of his father's death inappropriate?
He did not yell/scold/say anything negatively towards FIL. All he did was try to call him and leave messages saying to call him back. I really don't see where you are coming from with this one.

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JustEstelle

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #19 on: April 10, 2012, 03:06:02 AM »
What I think many folks here do not understand is that you really do not know how you will react when faced with devastating news.  I seriously doubt that the OP's FIL was being intentionally cruel or disrespectful.  He received bad news.  About himself.  And he dealt with it in the best way he knew how.  Etiquette kind of goes out the window in such circumstances.  I'm not saying that's right, but it's sometimes just the way it is.

I have personally been through the "receiving bad news" thing.  As in being told, "You have cancer."  Not once, but twice.  I had people get mad about how I "handled it."  I did the best I could with what I had to work with.  Those who really, truly wanted to be there stuck it out.  And I figured that those who fell by the wayside weren't really "there" for me to start with.  And, really, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to deal with being told you have such a serious illness.  Sometimes we just go on autopilot.

Give FIL a pass.  He is ill, and seriously so.  Nothing he has done is deliberate.  He is hurting more than anyone else is right now, and he will need his family.  Please do not let this make you pull away, OP.

SleepyKitty

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2012, 09:16:57 AM »
Just to clarify my post, I don't at all believe that the FIL did this in a deliberate way to hurt anyone. I have (thankfully) never had to go through being diagnosed with an illness, but I do have an idea of how hard it can be to pass along devastating news - unfortunately my family has had its share of tragedy. I do not think in any way the OP and her DH ought to pull away from FIL, and FIL ought to have the support and love of his family at this difficult time.

However, this does not change the fact that notifying people who love you and whom you love in this kind of way is deeply hurtful and could even be called cruel, particularly since it is a parent-child relationship and not a more distant relationship. Putting a post on FB so that your third cousin twice removed whom you've only met twice knows what's going on is significantly different than notifying your son what's going on, and I think the son has a right to be told in a way that is, if not perfect, at least not unnecessarily difficult.

audrey1962

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2012, 09:52:05 AM »
I think the son has a right to be told in a way that is, if not perfect, at least not unnecessarily difficult.

But how do we know that any method other than FB would be unnecessarily difficult for the Father?

Maybe phone calls and meeting face-to-face are easy for you, but we don't know this man and so we cannot say that those things would be easy for him.

I once suffered a horrible tragedy and I became physically unable to speak of it. I could NOT discuss it. I had to have my mother notify friends and family. I would not discuss it with anyone. Some people sent cards, which I appreciated, and I was capable of responding with, "I appreciate your card" but that was all I could do.

While I appreciate etiquette (I have been a member of this site since 2004), sometimes, we need to show compassion when people don't follow the rules - especially when they are hurting.

« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 09:58:16 AM by audrey1962 »

WillyNilly

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2012, 10:13:43 AM »
I do think your DH's reaction was inappropriate though.

How is becoming emotionally upset when faced with the sudden possibility of his father's death inappropriate?
He did not yell/scold/say anything negatively towards FIL. All he did was try to call him and leave messages saying to call him back. I really don't see where you are coming from with this one.

Well from the OP it really sounds like your DH made it all about him.  And as I said in the post you pulled that quote from, I think FIL made clear the method he wanted to communicate - electronic, not phone calls - so "subsequent calls" - I note that's plural "calls" - means your DH was pretty much trying to railroad over his father's wishes and enforce how he (DH) wanted communication to take place (phone calls), and certainly your DH was trying to railroad his father about when communication took place (right that second and not when FIL was ready to talk about it).

As scary and tragic as it may be to hear one's dad is ill, your DH needs to realize this isn't about him.  Your DH isn't the one who is sick.  Your DH's role is one of supporting cast not as the star. He should follow his dad's lead and not try to push his own pace and preferences.

So I think breaking down and then repeatedly calling someone over and over who has made it clear by their actions they don't want to deal with phone calls was inappropriate of your DH.  Not cruel, not horrible or hateful, just inappropriate.

Over the weekend DH and I learned that my FIL has been diagnosed with a rare type of cancer...when we read it on his Facebook page.  :o

I'm very upset about the way he decided to break the news. DH pretty much had a breakdown over the news (which left many unanswered questions) combined with the fact that FIL didn't even bother to call him and tell him. To make it worse, FIL did not answer any of DH's subsequent calls, and only sent him a brief FB message to give like 2 sentences more info on the diagnosis.

DH and FIL have a good relationship, no past tension or disagreements. I understand that FIL is probably depressed, but shouldn't he have at least called DH and told him instead of announcing his illness online?
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 10:34:07 AM by WillyNilly »

SleepyKitty

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2012, 11:36:40 AM »
I once suffered a horrible tragedy and I became physically unable to speak of it. I could NOT discuss it. I had to have my mother notify friends and family. I would not discuss it with anyone.

I completely get what you're saying here - I don't want to come across like I'd expect the father to force himself to talk about something when it wasn't possible. But in your scenario, you had your mother notify people. This to me is completely different from what the FIL in this situation did. In your case, you delegated notification to someone who could answer questions and offer the comfort of at least talking about it, even briefly. This is completely appropriate and in no way unnecessarily painful to the people hearing the bad news. Posting two lines on FB for your child to discover and then leaving the son alone to wonder and worry, with no contact and no answers (from anyone - I'm not saying FIL had to do it, but perhaps MIL, or a close friend, or a pastor or someone) is, in my opinion, unnecessarily painful for a normal father-son relationship. I don't think it is disrespectful to the FIL's pain to acknowledge that - after all, we can be compassionate about his illness and pain while still saying that FB was not the appropriate way to break it to your son that you have cancer.

kitchcat

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #24 on: April 11, 2012, 08:47:19 AM »
As scary and tragic as it may be to hear one's dad is ill, your DH needs to realize this isn't about him.  Your DH isn't the one who is sick.  Your DH's role is one of supporting cast not as the star. He should follow his dad's lead and not try to push his own pace and preferences.

I'm not sure where you are getting the idea that DH was being selfish or a drama queen, and I'm honestly a little offended by the accusation. He was distraught that his father, who is only in his late forties, might potentially die. How is calling him to find out if he is okay trying to "railroad" him? If your parent announced on facebook they had a terminal illness, wouldn't you try to contact them? You are being way to harsh. He was in no way trying to make it about him. He was worried about his father!
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WillyNilly

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #25 on: April 11, 2012, 10:32:50 AM »
As scary and tragic as it may be to hear one's dad is ill, your DH needs to realize this isn't about him.  Your DH isn't the one who is sick.  Your DH's role is one of supporting cast not as the star. He should follow his dad's lead and not try to push his own pace and preferences.

I'm not sure where you are getting the idea that DH was being selfish or a drama queen, and I'm honestly a little offended by the accusation. He was distraught that his father, who is only in his late forties, might potentially die. How is calling him to find out if he is okay trying to "railroad" him? If your parent announced on facebook they had a terminal illness, wouldn't you try to contact them? You are being way to harsh. He was in no way trying to make it about him. He was worried about his father!

If my dad tells me something via Facebook that concerned me, yes I'd try to contact him but I would not call.  I certainly would not call repeatedly.  I would send him a note via FB or an email.  Because, as I already stated, I truly feel one should reply via the same means they were contacted.  IMO your FIL made it abundantly clear he did not want to speak verbally about his illness.  So yes I absolutely think your DH trying to push his own preference to speak on the phone over your FIL's preference to handle it all electronically was a way of railroading over your FIL's feelings.

I'm sorry you feel offended by this.  Clearly you and your DH have a different opinion.  But that doesn't make your opinion right and mine wrong (or vice versa) both opinions are valid.  But since your FIL is the one who is sick and perhaps facing death, I think your FIL's preference - no matter how distasteful you  or your DH feel about it - is the one that takes precedence; if you FIL didn't want to talk about it on the phone IMO your DH was wrong to call, especially more then once, trying to get him to do so.

Yvaine

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #26 on: April 11, 2012, 10:43:38 AM »
But since your FIL is the one who is sick and perhaps facing death, I think your FIL's preference - no matter how distasteful you  or your DH feel about it - is the one that takes precedence

I'm going to agree with this. I guess I am having trouble wrapping my mind around calling the actual sick person disrespectful for the way he chooses to deal with his illness--it's a painful situation for the loved ones, of course, but pretty much by definition the sick person is the one most affected IMO.

O'Dell

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #27 on: April 11, 2012, 10:48:28 AM »
I can see where you're coming from, WillyNilly. Announcing something like this with no warning and on Facebook is a sign that he is not handling the news well himself. I'd assume seeing such a message, that his loved ones are going to have to be strong for him. At least as he comes to terms with the info. Until he does, your husband, Kitchcat, is better off keeping calm and taking things slower with his dad. A FB message or email would be good. As would one phone call. He needs some space, so give him some. I'm not saying don't call, just calling and pushing for a response is not the way to go.

Personally I think this kind of situation is where etiquette gives us some good guidelines so we can be there for those we care about. Both etiquette and caring suggest communicating on your FIL's terms with FB or email and don't be pushy or demanding with any phone calls. Give him some space and let him communicate how he needs to.

Sending good healthful vibes to him. :)
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Mrs.E

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #28 on: April 11, 2012, 11:44:02 AM »
I sent a text message to my friends when I had my miscarriage. I could not bring myself to talk about it, but I had to get the news to the people closest to me. It took me days to respond to people asking questions, since depression overtook me. Give him a pass, he will call when he can.

MrsJWine

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Re: Announcing serious illness on FB w/o warning?
« Reply #29 on: April 11, 2012, 11:54:47 AM »
The FIL didn't handle it perfectly, but the guy just found out he has cancer. I give pretty much anyone a free pass for anything when they're facing a horrible diagnosis, or are deep in grief.

And for that reason, I think the OP's husband should get a free pass for not doing everything perfectly when he found out his dad may die. I can't imagine facing that. I hope it's a long time before I have to. But when I do, you can bet I won't have the presence of mind to do everything tactfully and correctly. I think everyone gets a free pass on this one.


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