Ten helpful things to say to a sick friend

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

After my heart attack, I appreciated kind-hearted friends and family who said: “Just call me if there’s anything at all that I can do for you!”

But I knew in my heart of hearts that I was not going to call them to ask:

“Can you come over and change the kitty litter?” 

That was just never going to happen.   

By comparison, I found it truly helpful when people phoned and said something like: “I’m at the grocery store – what can I pick up for you while I’m here?”

Dr. Elvira Aletta might agree. I particularly liked her essay called Ten Things To Say To A Sick Friend, originally inspired by author and speaker Lisa Copen, founder of Invisible Illness Week (and coincidentally my fellow inductee named by ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’ as their Women’s Health Heroes for 2009) who asked her Twitter followers:

“What would be a good thing to say to a sick person?” 

Dr. Aletta compiled a sampling of these 10 suggestions taken from Lisa’s Twitter community’s helpful tips:  

1. I don’t know what to say, but I care about you.

2. Do you just need to vent? I’m all ears!

3. I really admire how you are handling this. I know it’s difficult.

4. I’m bringing dinner Thursday. Do you want lasagna or chicken?

5. Can I get your kids for a play date? My kids are bored.

6. I can’t sit still. Got any laundry I can fold?

7. I saw these flowers and thought they’d cheer you up today.

8. I have Monday free if you need me to run some errands or drive you somewhere.

9. Do you want me to come over while you wait for test results?

10. You are amazing!

Read more from Dr. Aletta, or her essay called ‘10 Ways to Bring Christmas Cheer to Your Loved One In Hospital for the Holidays’

See also:


Q:  What is most helpful to you when you’re feeling sick?

5 thoughts on “Ten helpful things to say to a sick friend

  1. That was so thoughtful.

    Sometimes, I’ve really had difficult times consoling a friend like this. Thanks for your post – you give me good ideas.


  2. A few months after I’d had my cardiac arrest, I was at a wedding where an old college friend, someone I hadn’t seen in a few years and liked but wasn’t close to, asked me if I was scared and then, as I dissolved in a puddle of tears, listened.

    She was/is one brave lady.


    1. Just listening with an open ear can be such a gift when we need to “dissolve in a puddle”, isn’t it? The timing for both of you must have been perfect – she asked the right question at the right time, and you likely felt safe enough (or scared enough!) to really tell the truth.
      Thanks for sharing that…


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