At some point in our lives, most of us will know someone who is facing a life-threatening illness. We’ll want to help, but may not know just what to say or do to ease their pain.
Talking with a friend or family member who has a serious illness can be difficult. Saying the right thing can bring comfort, but saying the wrong thing can inadvertently cause despair.
That’s why I found a recent article in the Wall Street Journal so helpful. It specifically discussed how to relate to a sick friend or family member. The essay was adapted from a new book by Letty Cottin Pogrebin titled “How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick.”
The article listed helpful tips for talking with a sick friend. For example, although it’s important to celebrate successes and milestones, don’t minimize the seriousness or your friend’s illness, give medical advice, or complain about trivial problems in your life.
Understand that despite your friend’s illness, he or she is the same person. Your friend may want to talk about his or her diagnosis. Listen. But also start conversations about other topics that you’ve talked about in the past. Make your friend feel special and useful. And never act in a way that compromises your friend’s dignity.
You can read “For a Sick Friend: First, Do No Harm” by clicking on the link.