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How to Be a Friend

Posted 6/18/2013

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  Finally, a really excellent book that we can give to all our friends. Or at least we can tell our friends about it and strongly hint that they buy it. I am talking about Letty Cottin Pogrebin's new book, How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who is Sick. Written after her own experience with breast cancer, it is especially helpful in cancer situations, but I suspect the advice is quite relevant to all kinds of crisis and sadness and hardship. The suggestion, for example, to say:' It is good to see you" rather than the dreaded:"How are you? I mean, really how are you" would work just as well after a house fire or a death or a horrible accident.

  We all have "friends" who have major league put their feet into their waiting mouths, and some of us may have done it, too. One thing about having had cancer is that we are much less likely to make those mistakes again. We know how to help. For those who don't, recommend the book.

  Here is a short piece about it from The New York Times and a link to read more:

Saying Less and Doing More
When I received a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2009, my friend Caitlin was one of the first people I
called. And when she came to see me, she said the perfect thing: nothing. Instead, she burst into
tears, gave me a hug — and then took me shopping for wigs.
Caitlin has a genius for friendship. And because she had received her own diagnosis a year before,
as a guide through breast cancer she was unparalleled.
She arranged for me to have eyebrows tattooed, so I would not look faceless when all my hair fell
out under chemo. After my first treatment, she shaved my head in my kitchen sink. And after my
mastectomy surgery, she presented me with a material assertion that there would be a life after
reconstruction — a lacy bra.
Unfortunately, most people — even the most warmhearted — lack Caitlin’s intelligence and good
sense. Letty Cottin Pogrebin’s new book is for us.


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