Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What to say when someone is sick...

Do say:
  • You're tough as nails.
  • If anyone can beat this, it's you.
  • One step (or mile, or inch: pick your distance) at a time.

Do NOT say:

  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • If I had only part of your normal strength, I'd be happy.
  • At least you're walking.
  • Everything is going to be fine.

Because you don't know if everything is going to be fine. What is "fine", anyway? Only I can define that, and it will be ever-changing for the rest of my life. As of today, "fine" means my old life back, exactly as it was. No one knows the extent to which this disease will rob me of that, not even the best doctors. But the probabilities and statistics are that it will rob me of at least a portion of my physical capability, independence, strength, identity, etc. I can't bear to hear someone who doesn't know the ins and outs of what I'm going through tell me that it's going to be "fine". I know that this is just an attempt at optimism and a way of telling me that I can beat it, but the phraseology could use some work. I'm glad I've gotten this enlightenment in choosing words of encouragement, perhaps it will make me a better friend. Hearing the right words at the right time really is a powerful and comforting thing, and being able to choose them well is a skill.

No comments:

Post a Comment