What To Say To Someone Who Is Sick

On Sunday The New York Times ran an article about what to say -- and not say -- to someone who is seriously ill. I found the piece to be truly enlightening, as I have often wondered what to say or do. Rather than reiterate all the tips in the article, I am including a link to it at the end of my blog so you can read it for yourself.
Years ago I visited an uncle who was dying, and my aunt said, "Doesn't he look great?" I was on the spot. But I couldn't bring myself to lie, so I said something specific and honest. My uncle's eyes were still very bright and very intelligent - taking everything in and radiating out again his wonderful spirit. So I spoke of his eyes and how bright they were. I said, "You're still you. I can see that twinkle." I always wondered if that was right. I kissed him and held his had and told him I loved him. This article made me feel I had done the right things.

The article was also timely for me because I had just this past week delivered a meal to a friend who had undergone double knee replacement. Again, I was relieved that I did some of the things the author said to do: I gave my friend a hug. I did offer something specific - a dinner. And I stayed for a visit in which we didn't just talk about the surgery and physical therapy and pain. We also talked about goings on in our church and our kids.

My friend said she was so grateful to people in our church (First Congregational Church of Darien) because so many members had been kind and helpful to her. She told me that one member had come over and read poetry to her, which she really loved.

And I thought, "Yes, that is what we need to do for others - bring beauty into their lives. Lift them out of misery with good stuff like poetry, literature, music or art."

Read on...

Published: June 10, 2011
A guide to what to say — and what not to say — to someone who’s sick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My brother's 35 year old daughter is undergoing chemo for her Grade 4 glioblastoma, after surgical removal of the tumor and many weeks of radiation and chemo at lower doses. Her prognosis is not good.

I discovered that she really likes being read to. Her eyesight is not good and her brain is not allowing her to be the articulate person she has always been, so it is a relief for her to lie on the sofa and listen to stories of my life, many of which include tales of her father. She has always been the family historian so my stories fit right in with learning more about her relatives.

Finding something that fits in with a person's needs is so satisfying and Wendy smiles much of the time during our story time.