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Posted on 17. November 2011

10 Things to Say to a Sick Friend

By Dr. Elvira G. Aletta

As we barrel into the holiday season, we thought it would be timely to offer our readers some tips on handling the sometimes awkward interactions that occur with family and friends. This blog is reposted with permission from www.explorewhatsnext.com.

Years ago, when I was pretty sick and unable to leave the house, a friend of mine would call once in a while to say, "I'm going to Wegman's. Can I pick anything up for you?" That simple offer filled me with love. Most times I'd say, "No thanks, Julie, I'm all set," but I'd hang up with a lighter heart and a smile on my face.

Lisa Copen has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for 16 yrs. She's a mom and wife, an author, speaker and founder of Invisible Illness Week.

Lisa used Twitter in a very clever way. She asked her followers a question: What would be a good thing to say to a sick person? She says, "Oftentimes people are told what not to say. This is a great help in giving them an idea of what to say!" Here's a sample of suggestions from the Twitter community for what to say to a sick person:

  1. I don’t know what to say, but I care about you.
  2. Do you just need to vent? I’m all ears!
  3. I really admire how you are handling this. I know its difficult.
  4. I’m bringing dinner Thursday. Do you want lasagna or chicken?
  5. Can I get your kids for a play date? My kids are bored.
  6. I can't sit still. Got any laundry I can fold?
  7. I saw these flowers and thought they’d cheer you today.
  8. I have Monday free if you need me to run some errands or take.
  9. Do you want me to come over while you wait for test results?
  10. You are amazing.

Like most loving gestures, it really is the thought that counts and is healing. Not all of the suggestions sent to Lisa would suit me and maybe not you either, but it doesn't matter.

Helping healthy people become more comfortable approaching a sick friend or a friend who cares for a sick child, spouse or parent is a wonderful concept. It can be so awkward when we don't know what to say. Will I intrude on her privacy? Maybe I'll offend her by presuming she needs help. This hesitation can take days and weeks and before you know it our friend is either better or dying. Either way, we've lost an opportunity.

Please share your ideas of what to say to a sick friend and leave a comment!

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Comments (2) -

Beth
9:16 AM on Friday, December 23, 2011

I was unable to drive after many broken bones suffered in a motor vehicle accident. I was using a walker and moving slowly. A friend called and said "I'm coming over, I'm wearing my working clothes so think about what you need to have done and then we'll go to lunch." She didn't ask, she TOLD me. She washed clothes,dusted, vacuumed,swept and mopped and moved houseplants outside, she and straightened and sorted trash and recycling. She took me to get a much need haircut and then we rewarded ourselves for her hard work with a good lunch. The secret? She told me, she didn't ask, so I couldn't refuse her visit. All the chores I was unable to do she did in a couple hours. I'll never forget her kindness and willingness.

Becki
7:09 AM on Friday, April 22, 2016

Thanks for your comment.  At one of my lowest points a friend came over and stole my dirty laundry, took it home and brought it back all washed and folded. Then she got me out of bed so that she could change my sheets.  I still remember the clean feeling and the wonderful smell of the clean sheets.  I was in heaven.

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