10 Things to Say to the Sick or Dying

As someone who’s lived through a cancer diagnosis, I saw first-hand how people struggle with what to say to someone who’s sick and potentially dying. A little bit of kindness and compassion can go a long way for anyone, but especially someone who’s dealing with a serious medical crisis.

It’s understandable that healthy friends or family members might be uncomfortable facing the illness of a loved one. But rather than say or do nothing because you don’t know what to say or do, muster up your courage and vow to be supportive.

The following ice-breakers can help you get started. The suggestions aren’t heavy or deep. Your sick loved one probably spends a significant amount of time in their own head being heavy and deep. You can be a supportive diversion, while still acknowledging their struggle.

Try out these simple and handy-dandy all-purpose “I care” statements and actions:

  1. “I’m really sorry this is happening to you.”
  2. “I’m sorry you’re feeling so crappy.”
  3. “If you’re feeling up to it, I’d love to treat you to lunch.”
  4. “If you ever need a ride to the doctor, please give me a call.”
  5. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately.”
  6. “I’ve been praying for you.”
  7. “I love your [fill in the blank].” Ideas: smile, spirit, determination, cancer turbans, toe nail polish – ANYTHING!
  8. “You’ve always been [fill in the blank] to me.” Ideas: an inspiration, a role model, a best friend, an ideal mom, the best cook, the funniest person, very special – ANYTHING!
  9. “I love you!”
  10. Send a Thinking of You card.

I hope it goes without saying that whatever you say or do should be genuine. Don’t tell someone you’ll pray for them if you won’t. Don’t tell someone you’ve always admired them if you haven’t. There are plenty of genuine kind and caring things you can say or do.

You can never go wrong being supportive or thoughtful toward the sick and dying – or to anyone in life, period.

Which suggestion is your favorite?

Give it a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below!

What do you say to someone who is sick or dying? How do you support them? These 10 sure-fire words of kindness and caring will get you started.

2 Comments on “10 Things to Say to the Sick or Dying”

  1. “I’m sorry you’re feeling so crappy.” sounds thoughtful with a pinch of humor to hopefully lighten up the mood. It is a difficult task when talking to people who are sick, dying, or have actually lost someone. I’m always a loss for words because I don’t what to say. Thanks for the tips.

    • Thank you, Gilberto! You have validated the reason for this post. It is a difficult situation but I hope this will inspire you to say something supportive in the future. Doing it will probably make your heart feel good and I guarantee it will be meaningful to your recipient. <3

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