A few days ago, a delightful hospital staff member did something so kind for me; I was there because of a callback for additional mammograms. She asked, "How are you?" I hesitated, and she said: "I know, you're called back for more." And gave me an understanding smile.
Two hours later, a doctor told me the second films weren't enough--I'd have to have a biopsy. He, too, was kind and showed that he realized the news and the description of the biopsy were not cheering. I trusted him. And I felt supported. Not alone.
And a week before that, layperson did the same thing--gave me understanding, listened, and put her number in my cell phone.
All three acknowledged that the diagnosis process isn't likely to put me in a buoyant mood. With their acknowledgements, I felt supported and almost cheerful. Nobody insisted on a stiff upper lip.
This week, someone who once went through the diagnosis, and got the test results nobody wants, told me not to consider my feelings self-pity, that this process is real, and serious. She knew not to tell me to cheer up.
A priest I knew said once that the quickest way to make someone worry is to say: Don't worry. I will think twice before using those words.