On a personal note: serious illness
Choosing the right words to give comfort
When a friend or loved one faces serious illness, it’s sometimes difficult to know what to say, whether face-to-face, in a card or on the phone. This is especially true if the treatment is long-term or physically or emotionally draining, or if its outcome is uncertain.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you look for the right words of comfort:
- What kind of relationship do you have with this person? Are you long-term friends or just getting to know each other? This will help you determine how careful or casual you need to be.
- How is your friend handling her illness? Does she feel so scared and overwhelmed that she needs a quiet listener, or does she just need someone to help take her mind off her situation?
- Are you comfortable using humor with this person? Or do you have a more serious relationship? If humor is the natural way you relate, making jokes or sending funny cards to lift her mood will reassure her that despite all the changes, your relationship is the same. If you take a more serious approach, warm cards or notes just letting her know that you're thinking of her can make a difference.
- Have you been treating her as you always have? It’s an illness…it’s not his or her identity.
Still looking for the right words to offer support? Try these helpful note starters:
- Here’s my phone number again. I’m a good listener.
- I’m sorry, and I’m here for you.
- If you need anything, big or small, I’m here to help.
- I just want to remind you how strong you are.
- I believe in you.
- I’m cheering for you.
- Take care of yourself…and listen to your doctors!
- I’ve always admired your ability to handle whatever life throws at you with grace and humor.