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