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Æthelthryth the Texan

Sharing your good news with people who are having a difficult time in the same area

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If you have a good  life-changing event in a specific area of your/your family's life, that is difficult/impossible to hide from close friends, what is the most sensitive way to go about sharing it with a close friend who is having a very, very difficult time in the same exact area?

Similar examples (NOT this situation in my case, but probably equal in chance for emotional level) would be: telling a friend who cannot conceive that you are pregnant, sharing with someone who recently lost a child the age of your child that your dc is going off to college/getting married/having a baby- things in that line etc. 

You know friend will be, or will at least act happy for you, but you also know that this news has a high likelihood of bringing some hard emotions to friend. But not telling friend is not best idea I am guessing, as they would probably be hurt when they found out this happened a year ago or something and you hid it from them. 

Suggestions of how to delicately approach this? 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan

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3 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

If you have a good  life-changing event in a specific area of your/your family's life, that is difficult/impossible to hide from close friends, what is the most sensitive way to go about sharing it with a close friend who is having a very, very difficult time in the same exact area?

Similar examples (NOT this situation in my case, but probably equal in chance for emotional level) would be: telling a friend who cannot conceive that you are pregnant, sharing with someone who recently lost a child the age of your child that your dc is going off to college/getting married/having a baby- things in that line etc. 

You know friend will be, or will at least act happy for you, but you also know that this news has a high likelihood of bringing some hard emotions to friend. But not telling friend is not best idea I am guessing, as they would probably be hurt when they found out this happened a year ago and you hid it from them. 

Suggestions of how to delicately approach this? 

I can answer from the perspective of the person who actually was struggling to conceive, with a family member who was happily, easily, planned pregnant.

In my case, I didn't want anyone dancing around any bushes.  It's not like it's something that can be hidden anyway and heaven forbid something would have happened that my sister miscarried, how awful and awkward would that have been all around.

BUT, the thing is, everyone wants this approached differently.  Which makes it hard to answer in general.  

I will say, my sister must have apologized like 10 times, and that actually got irritating.  I have no right to have any say in when she had kids, and she should not have felt like she wronged me by getting pregnant before I was able to.

But again, it's hard, because everyone reacts so differently.

 

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8 minutes ago, happysmileylady said:

I can answer from the perspective of the person who actually was struggling to conceive, with a family member who was happily, easily, planned pregnant.

In my case, I didn't want anyone dancing around any bushes.  It's not like it's something that can be hidden anyway and heaven forbid something would have happened that my sister miscarried, how awful and awkward would that have been all around.

BUT, the thing is, everyone wants this approached differently.  Which makes it hard to answer in general.  

I will say, my sister must have apologized like 10 times, and that actually got irritating.  I have no right to have any say in when she had kids, and she should not have felt like she wronged me by getting pregnant before I was able to.

But again, it's hard, because everyone reacts so differently.

 

 

I felt the same way when we were trying to conceive.  I didn't want people hiding things from me and, in my mind, if someone else had a baby it didn't mean that I had less chance of having one so it didn't bother me.  But I know other women who struggle with infertility who can't be around pregnant women or babies or go to baby showers.  People really do react so differently that there's no right or wrong way to handle these things in general.  

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So is blunt honestly better? Something like "hey, this is happening. I know y'all are going through a rough time on the same front, but I didn't want to leave you out of the loop/you hear it from someone else." And then be quiet and listen to what they say? 

Edited by Æthelthryth the Texan
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When we were having difficulty conceiving our first child, I had only told one friend. She got pregnant, I think four months before I did. She messaged me, before making a public announcement, and told me she'd found out she was expecting. She said something like "I am joyful about this, but I also worry that it will hurt you in some way, which is the last thing I want, and I'm very sorry if it does." I was actually very happy for her, but I really appreciated her approach - she acknowledged that the news might be hard for me; she made sure I knew privately so I wasn't caught by surprise with a public announcement; and she communicated in a way that allowed me to respond when I was ready to do so.

Edited by purpleowl
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The best thing my friend did for me was let me know via text/email so that I had time to process on my own and not feel pressured into responding "correctly" on the spot.

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16 minutes ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

So is blunt honestly better? Something like "hey, this is happening. I know y'all are going through a rough time on the same front, but I didn't want to leave you out of the loop/you hear it from someone else." And then be quiet and listen to what they say? 

I think this, but just soften it as much as you can. "Hey, I have some news, and I think it might be bitter sweet for you, but I knew that you wouldn't want me to keep it from you..."

 

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3 minutes ago, cabercro said:

The best thing my friend did for me was let me know via text/email so that I had time to process on my own and not feel pressured into responding "correctly" on the spot.

Okay, that's good to know. I had thought about that, but then worried it would come across as unpersonal or avoidant. 

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1 minute ago, sassenach said:

I think this, but just soften it as much as you can. "Hey, I have some news, and I think it might be bitter sweet for you, but I knew that you wouldn't want me to keep it from you..."

 

Okay, so maybe this said through text so they don't have to respond right away? 

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38 minutes ago, purpleowl said:

When we were having difficulty conceiving our first child, I had only told one friend. She got pregnant, I think four months before I did. She messaged me, before making a public announcement, and told me she'd found out she was expecting. She said something like "I am joyful about this, but I also worry that it will hurt you in some way, which is the last thing I want, and I'm very sorry if it does." I was actually very happy for her, but I really appreciated her approach - she acknowledged that the news might be hard for me; she made sure I knew privately so I wasn't caught by surprise with a public announcement; and she communicated in a way that allowed me to respond when I was ready to do so.

 

What a sweet friend! I think this is the best way to handle it, in the vein of “I care about you and I wanted you to hear about it straight from me and not through the grapevine.”

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40 minutes ago, cabercro said:

The best thing my friend did for me was let me know via text/email so that I had time to process on my own and not feel pressured into responding "correctly" on the spot.

 

If you choose text, I would be sure to include something like “I am texting this to you because I want you to have private processing time / so you wouldn’t  feel pressured to respond...” Just some way to explain why you are sharing important sensitive info via text message. Maybe I’m just showing my age, but personally I’d need some words like that because you can’t read tone in a text message. 

Edited by Seasider too
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43 minutes ago, purpleowl said:

When we were having difficulty conceiving our first child, I had only told one friend. She got pregnant, I think four months before I did. She messaged me, before making a public announcement, and told me she'd found out she was expecting. She said something like "I am joyful about this, but I also worry that it will hurt you in some way, which is the last thing I want, and I'm very sorry if it does." I was actually very happy for her, but I really appreciated her approach - she acknowledged that the news might be hard for me; she made sure I knew privately so I wasn't caught by surprise with a public announcement; and she communicated in a way that allowed me to respond when I was ready to do so.

Your friend's approach was so sweet and just about perfect, I think!

Most people in my family and my circle of friends conceive very easily. I did not. I didn't mind being told other people's good news straight out and bluntly. I did (selfishly) mind them complaining about related issues, though. Things like, "Oh, this morning sickness is terrible!" or "I wanted a winter baby but it took us three months to conceive! Usually it happens the first month!" I wanted to say, count your blessings, peeps, and complain to someone else. 😉

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9 minutes ago, MercyA said:

Your friend's approach was so sweet and just about perfect, I think!

Most people in my family and my circle of friends conceive very easily. I did not. I didn't mind being told other people's good news straight out and bluntly. I did (selfishly) mind them complaining about related issues, though. Things like, "Oh, this morning sickness is terrible!" or "I wanted a winter baby but it took us three months to conceive! Usually it happens the first month!" I wanted to say, count your blessings, peeps, and complain to someone else. 😉

I agree. When I lost my baby, two of my SILs had babies at the same time. One was usually pretty clued in to this but the other was not. It was really hard for me to deal with complaints about fussy babies or babies who weren’t good sleepers or whatever. I just felt that courtesy would have expected those complaints to not be said around me. 

I agree that a text would be good because it lets the person process privately. I think there’s a sweet spot where you don’t fall over yourself apologizing for your good news while also not dancing around the subject. 

IMO, the worst way of all is to credit God for blessing you with XYZ. To the person who hasn’t been so “blessed” it feels like a slap in the face. Or it did to me. I’m sure other people are more evolved, lol! 

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1 hour ago, Æthelthryth the Texan said:

So is blunt honestly better? Something like "hey, this is happening. I know y'all are going through a rough time on the same front, but I didn't want to leave you out of the loop/you hear it from someone else." And then be quiet and listen to what they say? 

 

A heads up and time to process.

And don't take it personally if someone steps away for a little while as they get their own head in order.

Ask clear questions if you're unsure. "Hey, it seems to bother you if I share X. I'm OK if you'd rather we stuck to A. B, C instead. Would that be better for you ?'

 

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I would share it as nonchalantly as possible, but do share it.  I've been at both ends.  Nowadays, I'm more at the "difficult time" end, it seems.  I don't mind at all when people share their good news in the same area -- and in fact, it usually gives me joy!   But please don't let it be the only thing you talk about and gush about.   And like Quill said above, try not to complain about the little negatives that go along with your good news (like morning sickness during pregnancy).  

 

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Others have given good advice on how to handle it, but remember, it is not your fault your friend has unpleasant emotions. You might be a trigger, but you're not the cause. It is important that suffering people are able to distinguish this.

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1 hour ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Others have given good advice on how to handle it, but remember, it is not your fault your friend has unpleasant emotions. You might be a trigger, but you're not the cause. It is important that suffering people are able to distinguish this.

 

Excellent point.

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4 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Others have given good advice on how to handle it, but remember, it is not your fault your friend has unpleasant emotions. You might be a trigger, but you're not the cause. It is important that suffering people are able to distinguish this.

Thanks Rosie. 

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I am going to vote against a text message unless you know exactly what the person is going to be doing when it goes through.  

I have recently been the recipient of texts that bring up difficult emotions (not this kind of situation) when I have been in situations where I desperately need to hold it together for my children.  So, I vote against text messages.

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I'm leaning toward text message. I am reasonably sure on any given weekday they'll be home, but I could always preface text with- hey are you busy? before sending the news, but then Friend may just call, because that's sort of how we work. I text when I can get a minute from kids, or friend does if has a break in work (from home). 

I can completely get the whole wanting time to process or not have to immediately respond. So for that reason, I'm tempted to simply text one afternoon. Friend's situation is sort of an ongoing thing that's not going to end really, and I don't really know that there is a good time vs bad time anymore- obviously someone can be having a bad day, but this isn't exactly a new situation for Friend. They aren't at a crisis point any longer- it's just something that IS at this point if it makes sense. It's the daily grind that isn't going to change. The new normal as Friend calls it. Sorry I am having to be so vague, but am out of respect for friend's privacy, because the world is a small place and I have met a couple of you IRL and you never know who knows who. 

 I do know that after reading things on the thread here I don't want to do it in person and put friend in an uncomfortable forced response type situation. I can't see that a phone call wouldn't do similar. Email I think would be as likely to be read immediately as text by Friend, so I don't think it would be any different form of communication in this instance. 

Thanks all for helping me think this through. I think I have a good idea now of how to go about it. 

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6 hours ago, Rosie_0801 said:

Others have given good advice on how to handle it, but remember, it is not your fault your friend has unpleasant emotions. You might be a trigger, but you're not the cause. It is important that suffering people are able to distinguish this.

 

This is key to understand.  I will also say as someone going through a tough situation, that I need and am grateful for the people who love our family. and walk with me when things are hard, and include me in their lives, even if they occasionally say things that make me cry. 

Those people are much preferred to the people who avoid me, stop talking when I come near, and don’t share anything about their lives because they want to “protect” me.

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I always figure telling them privately, or like in an email, gives them a chance to react by themselves and without scrutiny.  Finding out through the grapevine or in a big group doesn’t give them time to process or compose themselves and feel the most unkind to me.

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If text is your main communication method, then I'd say text is fine. I mean, I do think there are things you shouldn't share via text (like, my father, who told me he had a serious cancer and was beginning treatment via a text and then I couldn't get ahold of him for a couple of days) but "I have good news" coupled with "I recognize that you're struggling" feels like it's within bounds for a text. Just because so many of us do everything via text now.

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Maybe a card in the mail if news won't reach her in person first. Or, if you are likely to see her in passing soon, a card that you can just hand her on the way out that says, "Read me when you get home." 

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don't hide it, but don't make a big deal about it with them either.

I will admit - listening to someone whine about paying capital gains for exercising his stock options when dh was unemployed... just, no.  that you're going off to build your dream house (ok, as long as you don't go on and on about how much it costs)

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I really dislike when someone close to me keeps things from me out of fear I will be jealous or sad or whatever.  I mean good grief, I am a big girl.  Depending on how emotional it is I agree to let them know in private (via text is fine) so they can process it before facing you or the rest of the world.

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