What to Say to a Friend Who is Ill, part 3

This is the third and final installment of a blog on….what to say to a friend who is ill.  It is derived from an article I read in More magazine, April 2014.  Today, I will address what NOT to say to a sick friend.

“…Often we rush into a friend’s home or hospital room and without taking time to think, offer up boilerplate platitudes to fill the awkward silence.  Here are some you should really try to avoid, according to several experts.

‘I know how you feel.‘  The truth is, you probably don’t, says New York University psychologist Irene S. Levine, author of Best Friends Forever.  This sort of remark makes it clear, she explains, that ‘you haven’t bothered to reach deeper, toward real empathy; you aren’t seeing the patient for who she really is right now.’

‘But you don’t look sick!’ This isn’t what a patient likes to hear.  She may think that means you believe she’s not really sick and may end up feeling that she hasn’t been heard.  How much nicer to hear a simple, “It is so good to see you” or “How are you feelings today?” says Rosalind Joffe, a career coach who has MS.

‘You have to think positive’ It is frustrating to hear platitudes such as ‘It’s all about attitude!’ – comments that sound as if the sick friend simply lacks the willpower to get well.  Instead, says Elizabeth Kaplan, pho has helped several ill friends, ‘you can acknowledge to a friend that her disease really sucks, that it is unfair.'”


More later……