From Stillwater-Ponca City (OK) Ostomy Outlook June 1997:

What to Say to Someone Who is Really Sick!

from The Hope Heart Institute, via Northern Virginia The Pouch

"No set of guidelines for being a good friend can replace your own style," says former cancer patient Georgia Photopulos, "but if you'd like a few simple tips on how to talk to someone who's very sick, here they are."

  1. Don't be afraid to ask me what I have, how I'm doing or what my treatment will be. At worst, I'll say I don't want to discuss it. At best, I'll welcome the opportunity to talk about my situation.

  2. Worried about what to say? What did we talk about before I became ill--politics, art, religion, the PTA, grandchildren? I'm still interested.

  3. Don't try to cheer me up by telling me things could be worse--that I'm lucky my husband or wife hasn't left, or that I could have been hit by a truck. It doesn't help. In fact, don't try to cheer me up at all! What I need most when I'm depressed is a compassionate comforter and listener.

  4. Don't assume you know how I feel. If you're prepared to find out, ask me, for I need every sensitive, empathetic listener I can get.

  5. If I look horrible, don't tell me I look great. Your lie will hang between us and undercut anything else you say. You don't have to comment on my looks at all.

  6. Remember, I chose my doctor and unless I say otherwise, I'm probably satisfied with him or her. Don't bring me articles about other doctors, other hospitals, or other treatments unless I ask you to.

  7. Do bring flowers, books, games--whatever you know I like. Most of all, bring yourself. Illness interrupts so much; don't let it interrupt our friendship.

  8. If anything about my illness troubles you, if it makes you upset or sad or nervous, tell me! Your silence may hurt me--something I know you don't want.

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Content last revised 1997-06-10