Community Shares: The First Person You Told After Your Heart Failure Diagnosis

Everyone reacts differently to the news of a heart failure diagnosis. Whether the news came as a complete shock or as an expected relief, most people immediately want to turn to a family member or a trusted friend for comfort and reassurance.

To learn more about the people you turned to after your diagnosis, we reached out to community members on our Facebook page and asked: “Who was the first person you told?”

Nearly 200 community members shared. Here are the most common answers.

The doctor did the telling for you

The most common response in the community is that you did not have a choice in terms of who to tell first. The doctor took care of that for you by making the announcement in front of your loved one, whether that was your children or your partner.

On the one hand, it might feel powerless to have this choice taken away. However, having others receive the news at the same time means that there is often instant support. Family and loved ones who immediately learn the news alongside you can often help shepherd someone through the next steps, allowing the person with the diagnosis time to process.

“The doctor told my daughter, and she was heartbroken. Told her we would get through this, as we are very strong women. This happened in 2007, and I am here today by the grace of God.”

“ER docs told my son and daughter-in-law that I was dying. They told me.” 

“My son and best friend were at the hospital when I was told.”

“My son was in the ER with me when the news was shared.”

“I was in the hospital when I got the diagnosis, so the first ones who knew were my daughters.”

Telling your parent or parents first

No matter how old you are, there is real comfort in being able to turn to a parent or stepparent in a difficult time. Parents often provide so much comfort and nurturing, which is what we need right after hearing the diagnosis. Parents provide a safe space where it is often okay to let the tears or other emotions flow, which is such a helpful part of emotional healing. Not everyone still has their parents, so it is nice when they are still available for this level of support.

“I called my mom after leaving my PCP office after she gave me my diagnosis. I was driving, and we were both in tears. I said, ‘I have a mass on my heart, pneumonia, CHF and more!’ That was 1 year ago.

“I told my dad and my stepmom.”

Telling your spouse or partner first

For many people, the first person they told was their spouse or partner, often as soon as leaving the doctor’s office. It is natural to want to tell the person who has committed to being by your side whether in sickness or in health. To be able to have a steadfast relationship for support is certainly a gift.

“I told my husband first.”

“I did let my wife know, followed by the rest of my family.”

“Once the doctors left, I called my husband crying and he came straight to the hospital.”

Telling your children first

So many people in the heart failure community told their children first. Members shared that their children listened, showed them love, and took them to their doctor appointments. Children who live close by can provide support in the form of grocery delivery and company to many healthcare visits. Children who live far can still be huge emotional support via phone and video calls.

“My wonderful daughter.”

“I first told my adult children.”

Thank you to everyone who shared their experiences for this story. It is helpful to hear such a variety of responses and to know that support comes in many different ways.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Heart-Failure.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.