I can’t be there for my gay son

Dear Suzie, I hope you can help me, i have suffered from cancer for 6 years and have last year been told that it has spread. Three months before this my son told me he is gay. The double blow has left me unable to handle his situation and help him in any way. He feels I am letting him down, but I cant make him understand that its not because I dont want to but that I am unable to. I am having help to cope myself with my illness. what do I do? how do I support him when I am unable to support myself. My husband won\’t talk to him.

As you say, you feel as if you’ve suffered a double blow – your son has announced he’s gay and you’ve been told your cancer has spread. It’s perfectly natural for people who discover their children are gay to feel it’s a loss. You’re losing the life you through you might have had, seeing your child grow up, marry and have children of their own and by doing so, carry on your line. It often feels like a rejection of all you hold dear, and it certainly feels as if a form of continuity has been cut off.

Being told cancer has spread is equally a terrible loss. You are likely to be feeling you’re being robbed of a future and of possibilities. Combine the two and it all feels so unfair and hopeless.

But how might he be feeling? Being gay isn’t something you choose – it’s who you are. He’s finally taken the very big step of trusting you by coming out to you, and what has happened. For a start, you’ve become ill. Might he be feeling guilty, wondering if it’s all his fault in upsetting you? Feeling guilty can make him angry – angry enough to lash out and demand more from you than you can give. And your husband might be unable to talk to him because he himself is feeling conflicted and confused.

I think it would really, really help if you all got some support from people who would understand the very complex, raw and totally understandable emotions that are washing around in your family at present. If you feel whoever is caring for you can help, ask them. If not, contact Macmillan Cancer Support for help. They have a helpline, Cancerline, on 0808 808 2020 and are as good at dealing with the emotional issues as the practical ones. You could also contact Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays who are terrific at supporting parents when their kids come out – and after. They’ll be there for you so you can be there for him.

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