Originally posted Wed, Jan 29,2014
by Brittany McNabb
People with cancer often talk about how they need alone time. Some WhatNexters need time to cry, regroup, or process their journey. As a loved one of someone with cancer it may be confusing to figure out why they want to be left alone or why they seem to be pulling away. Here WhatNexters explain reasons why they may want to be left alone; everyone has their own reasons, but WhatNexters want loved ones to know that just because they need quiet time does not mean they don’t need love and support.
I want to be left alone when…
1. I need to be left alone because it helps me turn back around and face the world.
“Nights and weekends are spent with my husband and two daughters. Although I love the distraction they provide and enjoy that time with them, without my precious alone time I don’t think I would be dealing with things as well as I am. I don’t really have to explain why I need this alone time, because it happens when they are at work/school. But if I did have to explain it, I don’t know if they would understand. At least the kids wouldn’t. I use my precious alone time for anything I want. Reading, doing my stretching exercises, taking a bath, cleaning out a closet, taking a walk, cooking a new recipe, thinking, thinking, and more thinking. I deal with my darkest thoughts and I spoil myself. Then I give myself a big hug and get ready to turn and face the world.” - peachpoppy
2. I need time to reflect.
“There are times that I just need to think and to digest what has happened to me and how I have fought to get where I am. Most of the time I entertain these thoughts in the darkness of the night while my husband is sleeping. Each morning, I read the WhatNext Digest and answer any questions that I can. I feel very strong about this because I received so much support from my friends on WhatNext. However, when I have the rare morning when I seem scared and don’t want to face the topic of Cancer, I will not participate as it is too much for me to handle at that moment. It is just a weak moment that I am able to get over – and I am fine the next morning to pay it forward. I truly need that alone time and silence to meditate and to be open to God’s plan for me.” -JennyMiller
3. I need to clear my head.
“I do need alone time when I get overwhelmed or am just having a bad time with my pain and emotions. I usually go to the park up the road and find my peaceful spot as it helps so much. Even with winter here I still go at times and just sit in my truck by the pond listening to my music until I am ready and had my peace.” - riverratttt47w
4. I want to recharge my batteries.
Giving your loved one with cancer time to recharge their batteries allows them to enjoy nature, take a walk alone, read a book, or just sit in their room quietly. When they are done they will come back feeling recharged and it will be comforting for them to know you are still waiting there to support them.
“I love to be by myself listening to the leaves shaking because of the wind, listening to the birds and mother nature sounds. When I am done being alone, all my batteries are recharged. Luckily I don’t even have to explain to my husband. I mediate, I pray, and then I come back to continue fighting.” - glam
“Being alone to recuperate and recharge is a good thing. Prolonged hiding out could be a symptom of clinical depression. Fine line there so I am careful but still need that time to recharge.”- melanomamama
5. I need to cry and don’t want to do it in front of anyone.
While you might feel that you want to cry with your loved one with cancer, sometimes it may help them to understand they don’t want to cry in front of anyone. They may want privacy or they may not want to feel weak in front of you.
“My private time was when my husband went to work and my daughter went to school and I had my private time. Those were what I refer to my closet days. I cried a lot and I did it alone. I got angry at who I don’t know, I questioned my faith, and I reflected. I learned to take it one day at a time. I new that tomorrow would come soon enough.” - ladyd2013
6. I need to regroup.
“To regroup and gather myself for the coming storms.” - Facebook Contributor
“Sometimes I just have to regroup. Doesn’t mean I don’t love everyone around you.” - Facebook Contributor
7. I need time to try and let things go.
People cope in different ways and some WhatNexters say that they need to process what is happening so they can learn to let things go. If you give them time to let go then they can then be ready to share those feelings of relief with you.
“I will not cry in front of others and my husband is in total denial of where I am in this time of my life and illness. For him, life goes on without interruption. For me, being Stage IV I am constantly interrupted with doctor visits, side effects, phones ringing and the guilt of not being able to see my Mother and Sister regularly. Mom has Alzheimer’s and the emotional pain is huge, along with my own. I need the time to truly let go.” - KatNT
8. I need to be alone when I feel sick.
Some WhatNexters want space when they feel sick; many have said that they appreciate when family gives them space when they don’t feel good or just don’t feel up to talking and socializing with others.
“I decided I had to have alone time to heal and reflect. Especially if I was not feeling good. I couldn’t see the point of having someone watch me be sick when I was in no mood for conversation. It also made it easier to cry if I wanted to. Or sing if I wanted to do that. I thoroughly enjoyed my time alone.” - mcshap
9. I just got bad news or I am waiting on test results.
Family and friends often want to hold their loved one’s hand and try to ease their anxiety while waiting on test results or coping with good news, but some WhatNexters need to cope in peace at those times.
“When I get bad news regarding my illness or am waiting for test results, I don’t feel like talking. I usually keep to myself for awhile until I can process the information.” - Facebook Contributor
10. I am having mood swings and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
Some WhatNexter struggle with mood swings and depression and feel like they don’t want to hurt their loved one’s feelings or say something they will regret. At these times they may need to retreat and be left alone.
“I have been experiencing some mood swings and at those times is when I need to be alone the most. I feel like I can be very hurtful at times when I don’t mean to be. I just need to be alone during these times. My family understands and they don’t take anything personally.” - PJki
11. I need silence and time to process.
“I enjoy the silence and like to be left alone a lot but I feel selfish for asking for my space at times. I think and process a lot.” - Facebook Contributor
12. I need “me time” to do something I love.
“I have always needed to be alone. That is why I am an early riser. I am most creative when I am alone, Being sick has forced me to have some relative “check up on me” time. My daughter had the tendency to hover. So much so I once found a Red Lobster coupon and sent her with my credit card to have lunch.” - BoiseB
13. Because sometimes I need to celebrate cancer milestones alone.
WhatNexters say that there is a time to celebrate with others, but sometimes the best celebration is when they can feel peace with themselves over their own victory.
“I need alone time. I had the flu recently and needed two days to process the symptoms and sleep. No phone calls required. Had my four months follow up tests on Monday and after an MRI in July I don’t need to be seen again until next year. Progress! I sometimes keep time for myself because I find that friends don’t understand the significance of these cancer milestones. They take it for granted that the cancer is gone. One thing I have learned through this process is to take nothing for granted.” - ld_105
14. Because I need my own time to correspond with others with cancer.
No matter how much support loved ones can provide to their person with cancer, sometimes it is comforting for WhatNexters to be allowed their own time to reach out to others that know what they are going through. Many say that is the reason why they value WhatNext because it gives them an escape and allows them to be a part of a community that just gets it. Loved ones should not take offense to this, they still need your love and support, but it is also important to understand that they need to confide in others with cancer.
“There were moments in the beginning where I wanted to be alone more often. I didn’t want my wife to see me cry, so I tried to wait until she went to work, (she worked nights). We have been married 46 years and she knows when I want to be alone. I am a 13 year pancreatic cancer survivor, and I now want to be alone for different reasons. In the beginning it was so I could cry without anyone seeing me, and now it is so I can clear my mind. Like many of you I am on the internet everyday, (4-6+ hours), working with people who have cancer, and it takes its toll on me…especially when someone passes away. I’ve been doing this for 12+ years, and if I don’t take breaks, I begin to relive my own experiences all over again. I’m not talking about 15 minute breaks, I’m talking about anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days, and sometime a little longer. I feel strongly about our obligations as survivors to reach out to all of those who are following in our footsteps, and who are newly diagnosed with cancer. If I don’t take these breaks, and clear my mind, I am no good to anyone. So I do myself a favor, and take a break to be alone from time to time.” - Russ
15. I need to process the brevity of life.
Cancer and the prospect of having less time, especially for those with advanced cancer, can be a hard thing to process. A lot of WhatNexters have difficulty doing this with the pressure of loved ones hovering or waiting for their next move. Try to find a balance between being there for them and giving them time to process things on their own.