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How to give sympathy for an illness

How to give sympathy for an illness

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”

Shannon L. Alder

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  • Illness is an isolating event. For the person who is ill, they can feel so alone in the pain and worry; and for the person who is well watching their loved one suffer, it can create a sense of lonely powerlessness.
  • But with the right words, you can create a bridge between the two countries of loneliness and bring comfort.

Showing Compassion and Empathy for the Unwell

Excerpt from “How You Can Support Someone with a Chronic Illnessby Creaky Joints.

Compassion is not: Telling people to try turmeric, lose weight, exercise more, or any other unsolicited advice. Just don’t — even if it comes from the goodness of your heart.

Compassion isGetting ice packs for someone, doing a difficult task that might put someone into a flare, or going out of your way to do anything that could “save some spoons.” In other words, real compassion is helping and letting your actions speak louder than words. And it’s OK to ask how to help if you don’t know how but want to.

Also, it’s OK if you can’t help physically offer help. Empathy refers more generally to the ability to take the perspective of and feel the emotions of another person. When others are empathetic, it just helps us feel a little less alone.

Empathy is not: Saying “everyone experiences aches and pains” or “everyone gets tired” or “it is what it is.”

Empathy is: Saying “I am sorry” or “I imagine that must be difficult to manage” or “I am here for you.”

Talking Points

A Big Freaking List of Comforting Statements

I’m thinking of you both.Illness – Partner
I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now, but know that I’m here for anything and everything.Comfort
I know this is hard and you’re not alone. If there is anything I can do to make life easier, better, or kinder to you, let me know and I’ll be happy to do it.Reassure Comfort
It’s okay to be angry and it’s okay to be frustrated.Acknowledgment
I’m so sorry you are experiencing this, I wish there was something I could do to make your life better – but until then I can at least be by your side in any way possible.Comfort
I see how upset you are, and I’m sorry to see you struggle.Acknowledgment
May her/his recovery be swift and painless.Illness – Partner
You have every right to feel the way you do.Acknowledgment
I can’t imagine how you must feel.Acknowledgment
It’s okay to be sad.Acknowledgment
Everything you feel is totally understandable.Acknowledgment
You’re doing everything you need to do. Sometimes, just taking it hour by hour is enough. This is one of those times.Acknowledgment
I know you don’t feel it right now, but you will feel better eventually.Reassure
You are so loved.Reassure
You are stronger than you know.Reassure
I’ve got you, boo.Reassure
I’ve got your back.Reassure
I think it’s brave that you get up every day despite knowing how hard it is. Thank you for not giving up.Reassure
You can handle this, especially if you take it one step at a time.Reassure
You have a 100 percent track record for getting through tough days. Reassure
Feelings are not facts and not all thoughts are true.Reassure
This too shall pass.Reassure
You can and will get through this. Reassure
If it’s out of your hands, it should be free from your mind too.Reassure
I’m here to feel with you and let you know you’re not alone. Reassure
Hang in there.Reassure
Please remember I’m here for you, not to intrude, but to support in whatever way you need me.Comfort
Divorce is okay. Starting over is okay. Moving on is okay. Saying no is okay. Being alone is okay. What’s not okay is staying somewhere where you aren’t happy, valued, or appreciated.Divorce
With divorce comes renewal. With leaving comes arriving at a healthy place. With shedding the toxic comes a brilliant new glow and a slow but steady process of rediscovering yourself. You lose the one who caused you to walk on eggshells, the one who seemed annoyed every time you tried to talk about important things, the one who always acted as if you weren’t good enough. Yet, you were chosen by them because of your natural goodness.Divorce
You’re stuck in this miserable page in a crappy chapter, but baby, you have no idea that there is so much more to the book. You’ll realize that. Someday soon, I promise.Divorce
Love is not how much pain you can tolerate from your partner. You made the right decision.Divorce
I know that you feel broken right now. But trust me, my friend, you are so strong. You’re holding yourself together and even though you think you will shatter at any moment, you don’t stop. You just heal. It may not be pretty or grateful, but fuck it, you keep going.Divorce
With time, you’ll see that the crazy, anxious person version of you was simply a kindhearted, tender person reacting to a very unkind situation.Divorce
You’re so strong. You left someone who did you wrong and it was someone you never that you’d leave. That’s incredibly brave – you looked beyond what you had, what you wanted and decided to chase what you needed.Divorce
Forgive yourself for not knowing better at the time. Forgive yourself for giving away your power. Forgive yourself for past mistakes. You did what you had to do to survive. You did the best you could do with the information you had at the time.Divorce
I’m so sorry to hear that <name> is unwell. If there is anything I can do — even bake you guys a mean casserole — just let me know!Illness – Partner
Wishing <name> warm and sunny wishes for a speedy recovery.Illness – Partner
Hoping this finds you and <name> well on the way to a speedy recovery.Illness – Partner
Hoping each new day will find <name> feeling better.Illness – Partner
Hope he/she will soon be well.Illness – Partner
Hope her/his hospital stay is a short one.Illness – Partner
Wishing him/her a speedy recovery.Illness – Partner
Just a cheery note to wish you and <name> well.Illness – Partner
Sending you peaceful thoughts and warm wishes.Illness – Partner
Thinking of you and hoping you’re feeling better soonIllness – Partner
Thinking of you and <name> and I’m hoping he/she is feeling better.Illness – Partner
I hope his/her illness will soon be only a memory.Illness – Partner
Just a note to let you know how much I care.Illness – Partner
Hope he/se will continue to feel better every day.Illness – Partner
Hope he/she will be in the best of health again soon.Illness – Partner
My thoughts are with you with love and caring.Illness – Partner
Hoping he/she feels stronger with each passing day.Illness – Partner
With love and special wishes that <name> will soon be feeling better.Illness – Partner
Hope he/she is up and about soon.Illness – Partner

Further Reading


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