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What to write when someone is ill

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What to write when someone is ill
June 27, 2019 Anniversary Wishes For Parents 4 comments

When you're writing a get well card it's important to select your words wisely. When someone gets ill or becomes injured, even day to day.

How to Be an Encouragement to Someone Who Is Sick or Ill

Showing You Care With Your ActionsShowing You Care With Your WordsKnowing What Not to Do or SayUnderstanding Chronic IllnessShow 1 more...Show less...Ask a QuestionRelated ArticlesReferences

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If someone you know is sick or ill, it can be hard to see him or her suffer while you're helpless to do anything about it. Although there is probably nothing you can do about her condition, you can show your friend you care by doing and saying the right things to be an encouragement during this difficult time.

Steps

Part 1

Showing You Care With Your Actions

  1. 1

    Visit. If your loved one or close friend is sick in the hospital or confined to their home, the most important way to encourage them is by being present. You can help to take their mind off of their illness and to maintain a semblance of normalcy during this hard time.
    • Think about what you might do on your visit. If your friend likes to play card or board games, you might bring something along. If you have children, you might want to leave them at home, but you could ask them to draw a picture for your friend to help cheer her up.
    • Be sure to call first and make sure it’s a good time, or schedule your visit in advance. Sometimes illnesses require extra care in planning for visits to schedule them around appointments, timing for medications, naps and early bedtime, and other contingencies.
  2. 2

    Treat her like your friend. Someone with chronic or terminal illness lives with daily reminders that she is sick. What she needs is reminders that she is still the same person that you love and care about. Treat her the same as you would if she was not sick.[1]
    • Maintain regular contact. A chronic illness can be a true test of a friendship, and for your friendship to withstand the emotional and logistical challenges of the illness you must make a point to prioritize staying in touch. Someone who is undergoing treatment or confined to a hospital or their bed is often "out of sight, out of mind," so be sure that you put a note on your calendar to remember to reach out on a regular basis.
    • Help her do the things that she normally enjoys. If your friend is living with chronic or terminal illness, its important that she still finds pleasure and joy in life. You can help by offering to take her out for their favorite activities.[2]
    • Don't be afraid to joke around or make plans for the future! This is still the same person that you know and love.
  3. 3

    Support her and her family. If your friend has a family or even pets, this illness is probably even more stressful because not only does she have to worry about her own recovery or prognosis, but she has to worry about those who are depending on her. There are practical ways you can help to support her family through this time:
    • Cook for them. This is a classic, tried-and-true way to support someone who is ill. Whether or not the ill person will be able to partake, cooking a home-cooked meal for her family will ease her burdens by letting her rest easy knowing her children, husband, or other dependents are well taken care of.
    • Help her plan for their care. If your friend has small children, elderly parents, or others who depend on her, ask how you can be proactive in their care during her illness. For instance, she may need someone to visit and check up on her father, someone to walk the dog, or someone who can take the kids to and from school or pick them up from soccer practice. Sometimes planning for small logistical errands can be difficult for people suffering from illness, but having a trusted friend to help carry the burden can make a difference.
    • Clean her house. Some people may be uncomfortable with this kind of support, so be sure to ask your friend first; but if your friend is open to it, ask her to let you commit to one day a week (or more, or less, whatever you are capable of offering) that you can come by and take care of chores. You can offer a specific chore that you know you are good at (mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, grocery shopping) or you can just let her tell you what will be most helpful.
    • Ask her what she needs, and follow through. People often say "Let me know if you need help," but most people are too timid to ever reach out and take them up on that offer. Instead of making her get in touch with you when she needs something, call her and ask her what she needs. Tell her you're headed to the grocery store and wanted to know if you can pick something up for her, or ask her if there is a night this week that she needs any help around the house. Be specific, and be sincere in your willingness to help. Then follow through and do it- that's the most important part!
  4. 4

    Send flowers or a fruit basket. If you can't be present, at least send a token of your affection so that your friend will know she is in your thoughts.
    • Keep in mind if the illness might make your friend more susceptible to strong scents (some cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, for instance, may not like a bouquet) and instead think of other things that might work like their favorite chocolate, a teddy bear, or balloons.
    • Many hospitals offer a delivery service from the gift shop, so if your friend is an in-patient, consider purchasing a bouquet or balloon arrangement directly from there. Most hospitals list the phone number for their gift shops on their website, or try calling the hospital operator.
    • Consider going in with mutual friends or co-workers to buy a nicer gift or flower arrangement.
  5. 5

    Be yourself. You are unique, and you don't need to pretend to be Mr. or Mrs. Fix It, or Do it all or Got the answer for everything. Just be yourself.
    • Don't pretend to know the answers. Sometimes, even if you do, its best to let them figure some things out on their own. Also being yourself can involve your sense of humor; it can feel like treading on eggshells being with a sick person but if you're nervous or acting as though you don't know what to say you could make them feel uncomfortable so be your laughing, joking self (if that's the way you usually are).
    • Be pleasant. You want to be as supportive and as comforting as possible. You want to lift their spirits up, not bog them down with gossip or negative opinions. Even wearing cheerfully colored clothes could brighten their day!
  6. 6

    Make her feel needed. Sometimes asking advice or asking small favors can help someone with a chronic or terminal illness feel needed, which can give them some motivation to stay engaged.
    • In many health conditions people's brains are as sharp as they ever were and thinking about other people's lives and problems can take their minds off their own for a while.
    • Think about your friend's area of expertise, and ask any questions you have that might be relevant. For instance, if your friend is an avid gardener, and you've been meaning to put in your Spring beds, ask her advice on when to get started and what kind of mulch to use.

Part 2

Showing You Care With Your Words

  1. 1

    Talk to your friend. Learn how to be a good listener and let your friend know that you are there for them if they want to vent about their condition or if they'd rather talk about something else. Either way, having someone to talk to can be a huge relief to someone who is ill.
    • Be honest with your friend if you don't know what to say. Illness often makes people uncomfortable, and that's ok. What is important is for you to be present for your friend and offer your support. Tell your friend that you are there for her no matter what.
  2. 2

    Send a card or make a phone call. If you can't be physically present with your friend, send a card or make a phone call. It's easy to send a text or make a Facebook post, but mail and phone calls feel more personal and will feel more thoughtful to the recipient.
    • Consider writing a thoughtful letter. This can be easier if you are someone who doesn't know what to say around people who are in difficult situations. You can write a letter, and then take time to edit it and rewrite it if you feel like you haven't conveyed your feelings well. Focus on kind wishes, prayers for recovery, and good news that is unrelated to their illness.
  3. 3

    Ask questions. While its important to respect your friend's privacy, if your friend is open to questions they can be a great way to learn more about her condition and to find out more ways that you can support her.[3]
    • You can research her illness online, but asking her questions is the only way to know how her condition affects her as an individual, and just as importantly, how she feels about what she is experiencing.
  4. 4

    Talk to her children. If your friend has kids, they are probably feeling isolated, lonely, and confused. Depending on the severity of her illness, they may also be feeling scared, angry, and worried. They need someone to talk to, and if they know and trust you, you can serve as a mentor and friend to them during this time.
    • Take them out for ice cream and let them talk to you. Don't force them to say more than they seem comfortable. Some children just need you there as a reassuring force in their lives, while others may want to pour out all their feelings to you. Be open to their lead, and follow up with them every few days or weeks, depending on how close you are.

Part 3

Knowing What Not to Do or Say

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    Watch out for common faux pas. There are a lot of cliches that people use when other people are going through hard times, and more often than not these common responses just feel insincere or painful to the recipient. Examples of what not to say include:
    • "God will never give you more than you can handle," or its even-worse variation, "This is God's will."[4] Sometimes well meaning people of faith say this phrase, and they may truly believe it, but it can feel very harsh to the recipient, especially if she is experiencing something that is very difficult or overwhelming. Also, the person may not believe in God.
    • "I know how you feel."[5] Sometimes people say this phrase to others who are going through hard times, and while its true that everyone has experienced trials in life, it's impossible to know how someone else is feeling. This phrase is even worse if its accompanied by personal anecdotes that really don't match the intensity of what the sufferer is experiencing. For example, if someone is facing the loss of a limb, don't equate it to the time that you broke your arm. It's not the same thing. However, if you have truly had an experience that is on par with the experience the sufferer is going through, it's ok to talk about and say "I've been through something similar."
    • You'll be ok."[6] This is a common phrase when people don't know what to say, and we often say it more as a wish than a statement of fact. In fact, you don't know if someone will be ok, and in many cases of chronic or terminal illness, the person will NOT be ok. They may die, or be condemned to a life of physical suffering. Saying they will be ok minimizes the experience they are having.
    • "At least..."[7] Don't minimize the person's suffering by suggesting they should be thankful that their situation isn't worse.
  2. 2

    Don't complain about your own health problems. In particular, avoid discussing minor health issues such as a headache or a cold.
    • This can vary depending on your relationship with the person and the length of their illness. If they are chronically ill, or a very close confidant, it is more likely to be appropriate to discuss things that you're going through.
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    Don't let fear of doing the wrong thing keep you from doing anything at all. While its true that its important to be sensitive to the feelings of someone who is sick, sometimes we overcompensate for our fear of doing the wrong thing by doing nothing at all. Its better to stick your foot in your mouth and apologize than it is to just ignore your sick friend altogether.
    • If you do mess up and say something insensitive, just say, "I don't know why I said that. I really don't know what to say. This situation is just very hard." Your friend will understand.
  4. 4

    Be considerate. Try to pay attention to your friend's cues so that you don't visit too frequently or overstay your welcome. When someone is extremely sick especially, it can be very difficult to carry on a conversation and they won't want to offend you so may over-tax themselves by trying to please you.
    • If your friend seems distracted by television or her phone, or seems like she is struggling to fall asleep, those might be signs that she is growing tired of the visit. Don't take it personally! Just remember she is dealing with lot, both physically and emotionally, and it can be taxing.
    • Be mindful of the time, and be sure that you don't extend your stay into mealtimes or other times that your friend may need to be alone. Ask if your friend would like you to pick up some food for them or cook them a meal if you plan to visit during mealtime.

Part 4

Understanding Chronic Illness

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    Be sensitive to your friend's limitations. Educate yourself about their condition and treatment plan so that you are prepared for side effects, changes to their personality, or limits on their energy or stamina.
    • Ask your friend about their condition, if they want to share, or take time to read about it online.
    • Watch your friend's body language to understand how she is feeling and how her illness affects her ability to participate in activities, stay alert, and remain emotionally predictable. Be gentle and understanding if she does not act like her old self, and remember that she is carrying many heavy burdens.
  2. 2

    Keep in mind effects on your friend's moods. Dealing with debilitating, chronic, or terminal illnesses very frequently results in depression and other problems, and sometimes the medications to treat illnesses also have side effects that can affect the mood.[8]
    • If your friend struggles with depressive thoughts, remind her that this illness is not her fault and that you will be there to support her no matter what happens.[9]
  3. 3

    Show empathy. Try to place yourself in that person's situation. One day you might have a similar illness and you'll want people to be kind and sympathetic to you. Remember the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have others to do unto you.
    • If you were ill with a similar condition, what types of daily activities would be a struggle? How might you feel emotionally? What type of support would you hope you friends would offer?
    • Imagining yourself in their place can help you best determine how to help them.

Tips

  • If your friend suffers from a dangerous contagious disease, take precautions to avoid spreading germs such as wearing a surgical mask and keeping a fair distance from them. You can also video chat or call them on the phone to stay in touch and stay connected without risking catching illness.

Here is what to say when a friend's child is sick from a hospital chaplain. and most likely need someone to just listen to how they are feeling.

10 things not to say to someone when they're ill

what to write when someone is ill

When loved ones are sick, you’re desperate to find ways to comfort them. Unfortunately, your well-meaning attempts can sometimes fall flat. To help you navigate these sensitive situations, we asked Fran Walfish, PhD, a relationship psychotherapist, author, and consultant on CBS’ “The Doctors” to give us some pointers. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to help you truly comfort the sick people in your life.

The biggest mistake people make is being vague, so DON’T ask “How can I help?” Walfish says. Patients don’t want the burden put on them to come up with something you can do so if you really want to be useful, identify something that needs doing and offer to do that. Think cooking dinner, cleaning, babysitting children, driving them to appointments, or picking up groceries. If you’re still tempted to be general this powerful story will convince you to stop saying “Let me know if you need anything.”

Here’s what to say—and not say

DO say, “Do you want me to come over while you wait for test results?” Having someone available when they get emotionally charged news can be invaluable, Walfish says.

DO say, “I’m bringing dinner Thursday. Do you want lasagna or chicken?” Giving them a choice allows them to state a preference without overwhelming them. Be sure to ask about allergies and how many people will be eating. Consider bringing a meal that can be easily frozen and reheated.

DO say, “I have Monday free if you need me to run some errands or take you somewhere.” Letting them know your schedule isn’t being picky, it’s a kindness. This way they won’t feel as if they’re imposing, she says. Is it a mental illness? Try these 12 tips to help someone with depression.

DON’T say, “You look great.” Very sick people are aware that their hair is falling out, their skin is covered with sores, or they’ve become skeletal. Avoid commenting on appearances totally or stick to things that feel more genuine, Walfish says. For example, “Your eyes are sparkling” or “I can see your determination.”

DO say, “Can I take your kids for a play date? My kids would love to have friends over.” When a parent is sick, their children often suffer as well. Keeping them as normal as possible will also help their parent feel better by letting them know their little ones are being cared for, she says. For more ideas of what not to do with kids, check out 45 of the worst tips parents ever got.

DO say, “No response necessary.” Patients, especially those with long-term illnesses, can get overwhelmed with the burden of keeping everyone informed and feeling appreciated. Take this burden off of them by letting them know you don’t expect or need a reply if they’re not feeling up to it. When you drop off a gift or meal, tell them that no thank-you card is necessary. (And consider letting them keep the Tupperware too!)

DO say, “I don’t know what to say, but I care about you and I’d like to listen.” It’s totally fine to admit that you love them but you don’t know what to do, Walfish says. Most people are thrown for a loop by a serious or chronic health condition. This also gives them an opening to talk if they like.

DO say, “I need to go now.” Most sick people cannot handle long visits so don’t overstay your welcome. Try visiting for 20 minutes, even less if the patient is tired or in pain. And while you’re there, wash a few dishes, clean the room, and take out the trash when you leave. Do you know the two words to never say to a friend going through a crisis?

DO say, “Would you like to hear the latest updates on our friends?” When you don’t know what to say, a change of topic goes a long way—here are 11 more golden rules of good conversation. Patients are often sick of talking about their illness and will be excited to hear how common friends and family are doing. You can also bring up more general news—almost everyone has an opinion about the senator’s indiscretion, the underdog in the playoffs, or the latest celebrity gossip.

DO say, “Do you just need to vent? I’m all ears!” And then, listen. Listening attentively can be the best gift you can give a person, Walfish says.

DO say, “I really admire how you are handling this. I know it’s difficult.” A little sympathy and a compliment are almost always welcome.

DO say, “It’s okay not to be the perfect sick person.” Patients can feel a lot of pressure to “be strong” “stay positive” or “fight hard”, even when they’re feeling sad and weak. Let your loved one know that however they are feeling is acceptable and you don’t expect them to be the poster child for cancer, Walfish explains.

DO say, “I love you.” When all else fails, simple, direct emotion is the most powerful gift you can give a loved one going through pain. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be sincere.

If the sick person is you, be sure to check out this guide: How to Survive a Health Crisis or Chronic Illness.

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8 Ways To Support Someone Dealing With A Health Crisis

what to write when someone is ill

It isn’t easy for me to say it; my hearts beats a little faster each and every time I’m asked. I take a second to think is there a better way to say it?


I take a deep breath. I see that you’re waiting for my answer. My palms begin to sweat. I really don’t know how to say it without stunning you; the person who has asked me about my other children.

And I know what it is like to hear something you’re not expecting.

I remember talking to a mother outside a children’s ward, we were having a nice chat about the weather, the inconvenience of parking in the hospital and then I asked; “how many children do you have at home?”

The mother’s voice wobbled as she told me she had three, two at home and one had passed away.

I was not expecting her to say that.

What could I have said? I knew I couldn’t make it any better. We all know the death of a child is a parent’s worst nightmare. I felt such deep empathy for her. I said the same thing 99% of the population would say; “I am so so sorry”.

She nodded as silence fell heavy between us.

I stood watching porters, nurses and doctors rushing in and out of the ward. My mind was panicking, what do I say now? Have I upset her?

“I am sorry,” I repeated as our eyes locked again. “What is your child’s name?” I felt my head automatically tilt to one side.

We stood talking about her wonderful, funny bright daughter Sarah. She told me of Sarah’s sense of humour, her love of animals and how great she was with her younger siblings.

I smiled as this heartbroken mother became full of life talking about her Sarah.

I tried to hide my shock, sympathy and pity from her; I couldn’t understand how this mother was smiling and full of conversation about her daughter who had lost her life to cancer.

We spoke for about half an hour. She asked me about my children and back then, I was only at the hospital because my eldest son needed grommets. I felt bad, guilty even… telling her my two boys were otherwise healthy. She smiled and told me her youngest was in getting his appendix out.

“Thank you” she rubbed my arm as she got ready to go back into her son.

“Thank you for telling me all about your Sarah” I felt the lump in my throat but pushed it down.

“Thank you so much for asking about Sarah and not the cancer.”

“Thank you so much for asking about Sarah and not the cancer.” She walked back into the hospital and I never saw her again.

That day and that conversation has stayed with me for many years. The strength that mother had was incredible.

I didn’t know it then, but I would soon have to find her strength.

I didn’t know how that ‘head tilt’, that ‘pity’ and that ‘I’m sorry’ would be things many strangers would do in my presence.

Shortly after that hospital visit, my eldest son Ethan, was diagnosed with a terminal rare disease called Hunter Syndrome- a progressive syndrome which would in time, leave him unable to walk, talk , eat and communicate. If he saw adulthood, he would need the same level of care as a baby would.

How do I say all that when I am asked about my children?

Like every parent; I want to talk about my greatest joy – my boys. My three wonderful boys.

I don’t want to upset, educate and lecture other parents who have simply asked an everyday question.

I take my time when asked about my children. I still get a bit nervous; nervous that I am going to stun and shock.

I have three boys, Ethan who is almost 14, J who is 11 and a dictating toddler D, who is 2 and a half (that half is very important to him).

We laugh when I say that, then comes the usual and fair observation “Wow you’ve a houseful ; I bet the older two are a great help to you, especially the 14 year old, he must be a great sitter.”

Like all parents, I am not going to lie or mislead about my children but if this is said to me as a parent is leaving I normally just smile and nod, but if the parent is sitting beside me and watching both our toddler’s play/argue; I feel compelled to correct that assumption.

I take a deep breath and respond “Not so much, no. My almost 14 year old has disabilities and my 11 year old has ADHD, so no not babysitters at all.” I tend to make eye contact with the person asking me the question at this point; I don’t know what I am looking for in that moment- acceptance… understanding… an interest… questions…

“Oh right, what disability does your son have?”

“He has Hunter syndrome.” I know they will have never heard of it, I wait all the same for them to state that and ask, as I prepare myself for telling them what it is.

It isn’t easy for me to say it ; my hearts beats a little faster each and every time I’m asked. I take a second to think is there a better way to say it?

“Oh, can’t say I’ve heard of it. ADHD I’ve heard of. What’s Hunter syndrome is it like Down syndrome or something like it?”

And so I explain that it is a terminal condition which has currently no cure. I explain that I’ve to watch my son regress through his life rather than progress. I explain that Down syndrome and Hunter syndrome have one thing and only one thing in common: they are both syndromes, meaning you can see the syndrome in comparison to the likes of ADHD which you cannot see.

An awkward silence hangs in the air, one of which I’ve become accustomed to.

“Jesus, I am so so sorry.” I am not surprised by this response at all, it’s very common and very understandable.

Of course you’re sorry, you’re human, you’re thankful it isn’t your child, but you are genuinely sorry that it is another mother’s child. I am sure that, that sorry is a mixture of empathy and pity…

I don’t feel any anger for you saying that you are sorry.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry that my son is ill, I’m sorry that my son has to live with such a cruel syndrome and I’m sorry my little family will be broken beyond repair.

“Me too,” is how I respond.

Here’s the tip: you’re sorry. You’ve already told me that, and I’ve responded.

Ask me about my son.

Ask me his name.

Ask me what he enjoys.

Ask me what he is like.

Always, always put the person before the disability or illness.

Ask about Ethan first. The syndrome second, I know you’re curious about a syndrome you’ve never heard of, but always, always put the person before the disability or illness.

Always.

As for the ‘I’m sorry’ sentence; in my personal circumstances, it doesn’t bother me, simply because I am sorry too.

What does bother me is that head tilt; one I was so used to doing before Ethan diagnosis. It screams pity…I don’t want pity,  I don’t write about my life and Ethan’s life for pity.

The confusing thing is empathy can often look like pity and I am all too aware of that… when I get that head tilt along with the “I’m so sorry,” I often find myself remembering my encounter with that mother outside the children’s ward… my intentions were honest and full of empathy… I know what it is like to be the parent who wasn’t expecting such a devastating answer to a very average question.

I write to hopefully raise awareness of Hunter Syndrome and rare conditions, I write to record all the wonderful things Ethan has done, has taught us and is still doing.

Ethan is almost 14; he still laughs, walks for short distances, talks with some words, cuddles us, kisses us, understands basic language and he still eats …he still tells me “I lobe you” – in a world where no one is promised a tomorrow;, I think we are doing quite well.

Ethan is the happiest child you could meet.

So don’t feel too ‘sorry’ for us. We are very lucky to have a child like him and to be shown a secret world which has changed our perspectives on so many, many things…yes it is ‘sad’ but Ethan doesn’t need “sadness;” he needs love, laughter and to live his life to the best of his abilities.

Yes, I’d be lying if I said it’s an easy life, but I am trying my hardest to give Ethan and his brothers happy memories. I cry… I scream… I am heartbroken; I didn’t know such heartbreak existed… but my boys don’t need to witness that, so I lock that away and talk about it to those who I know will understand.

Don’t most parents do the same thing with their worries? I am just like you, but different.

I want Ethan’s life on record because he is a gem and who better to record it than me, his mammy?

Get well cards have the potential to influence the thoughts of an ill friend and perhaps I just don't like to see someone as nice as you suffer.

Get Well Soon Messages to Write in a Card

what to write when someone is ill

Just like when you lose something important, finding out that you or someone you know has cancer can initiate and require grieving. Cancer leads to a loss of health, comfort, and time. Emotions can be intense. Fear, anger, sorrow, or other feelings may be present. Keep that in mind and use the following sample of what to write to someone who has cancer.

  • Dear ______,

    Cancer is one of the scariest words to hear whether it is about you or someone you love. We can only depend on God for strength to face whatever comes next. I am praying for you to heal. I wish you peace as you face uncertainty. You are a very special person to me, and I can’t imagine losing you to cancer.

    I don’t know what you will need, or when you will need it, but I want you to know that I would feel much better if I had some way to help you. If you want me to babysit, clean your house, go grocery shopping, it doesn’t matter. I just want to help. Until I hear from you about something I can do to help, I will be praying for you.

    Sincerely,
    (Your Signature)
WATCH THE VIDEO ON THEME: Best Get Well Soon Wishes - Positive Quotes

It's easy for those with health problems to complain about what we don't want to hear others say to us. Here are some helpful things to say.

what to write when someone is ill
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