Caregiving Using CaringBridge

What to Say to Patients and Caregivers Besides ‘I’m So Sorry’

care, hope, support

CaringBridge users confirm what Ryan O’Neal said to Ali MacGraw all those years ago: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” (Readers born after 1970 can catch “Love Story” on Netflix.) While it’s a reflex to respond to news of a cancer diagnosis, stroke, illness, injury or any health crisis with an automatic, “I’m so sorry,” patients and caregivers on the receiving end of these words may wish for something less automatic and more hopeful.

‘I’m So Sorry’ Can Feel Discouraging

CaringBridge author Susan Miller, whose partner, Cyteria Knight, continues healing after a brain aneurysm and stroke, said, “I appreciate everyone’s comments, but when I read, ‘I’m so sorry,’ so many times, it can feel a little discouraging.” In general, messages that make patients and caregivers feel less isolated mean the most. That’s the essence of social support … helping people stay connected at a time they feel very disconnected from normal life.

6 Positive Expressions of Support

Here is a selection of comments recommended by CaringBridge users that expresses support simply, without defaulting to the over-used response of “I’m sorry:”

  • “This stinks.”
  • “I wish things were going better.”
  • “This must be hard news for you to share.”
  • “I wish this was not happening to you.”
  • “When do you see yourself clear for coffee? Or wine?”
  • “I love you.”

An Important Note …

The worst thing to write or say to patients and caregivers is nothing at all. So if an “I’m sorry” slips out, it’s OK. In the “Comment” section directly below, please feel free to add to the list of positive expressions of support.

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Comments (211)

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Karabo Jun 22, 2018 11:19am
Am suicidal
Dan Williams May 31, 2018 11:06am
To F Margo Hornback - I am sorry if someone's expression of "I'm praying for you" seems selfish, I would hope that everyone expressing that phrase truly had the sufferer's best interests at heart. Most Believers I know found peace through Jesus Christ during their own times of pain and struggle, and since it worked so well for them, they genuinely and sincerely want the same peace for the sufferer they are speaking with at that time. I would hope all Believers (me especially) are sincere when they express that sentiment, and not merely trying to placate themselves.
Patricia May 22, 2018 3:32pm
After my cancer diagnosis, I heard so many times "How ARE you?" combined with a stricken look. I felt at a loss for an answer. Then someone called and asked "How are you today?" and actually listened to my answer. What a difference!
Barbara May 20, 2018 1:26pm
I'm here for you... You are not alone... My heart hurts hearing this news... Offer something specific you can do to help. PLEASE never say, "let me know if there's anything I can do for you..." It puts all the pressure back on the person suffering to reach out and ask for help--which no one likes to do. I also don't know what someone is comfortable doing, so if you really want to help, pick something you can do and offer a specific time (i.e. "I'd like to make dinner for your family. What night helps you the most?" Or, "I'm on my way to the grocery store, can I pick anything up for you?")
Miriam May 19, 2018 3:55pm
I know it is not easy, but you are a warrior and you will be able to make it.
Cindy May 17, 2018 9:20pm
It’s ok, God and I are here for you????
Wendell May 17, 2018 11:13am
Know that I am here for you during this tough time. If there is anything that I can do for you, please let me know.
Linda jones May 17, 2018 10:02am
I'm here for you Your a very strong n position e person, you can do this Can I take your kids to a movie ? Skating, to the arcade, bowling, etc. We are praying for you and family. God will bring all of you through this. You are strong and beautiful
Jay Driesen May 17, 2018 9:25am
Especially so is this true when our vulnerable elders are locked up against their will, all the while state parties doing this, violate IA 235B.19(7) by ignoring the mandated Emergency Order provision of Iowa law. Our vulnerable elders have civil rights in any of our dealings with them. Their civil rights of the complete Due Process package and the rights of "Life, Liberty and Happiness" do not cease when elders become vulnerable. Neither are the estates of our vulnerable elders up for grabs. Additionally, local and private guardians are lawfully to be preferred to a state sponsored guardian and especially so the Office of Substitute Decision Maker (OSDM), which is still attempting to seize estates and Trusts even though laws for OSDM have changed during the 2018 Session. Far too many of our states vulnerable elders have been Isolated, Medicated and their Estates taken. Since 2014, Iowa has numerous new laws to protect our elderly....let's use them. Any questions....feel free to contact us. Iowa Legislative Liaison National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse
Steven P. Barrett May 17, 2018 8:58am
No pity parties for the stricken. They won't disagree if you have that look ("Boy, you gotta stop standing before on-rushing Amtrak trains. There's only so many of these encounters your docs can pull you out of the boneyard." Make sure you know your intended recipient of pikkerupper humor first. Strokes can gob-smack humor, too. But if you know somebody who had a great sense of humor, however earthy or non-earthy, don't let it get hijacked by the morose wet and soggy witch of the bogs, always seeing the most to slobber when picking up one's' chin with humor and grit will do far more to bring the temporarily stricken back to the land of the "Back from the ...." well, we won't go there, right? RIGHT! Keep it light and respectful. You can't go wrong.
Jane L Grudt May 17, 2018 8:41am
Drop off a frozen main course meal single serving. Sit with the loved one for 2-3 hours so they can rest. Take them to an appointment whether a haircut, dialysis, ... do something instead of "let me know if I can help." Going out for coffee or lunch is good but do be more specific like do you have time right now for lunch or how about this Thursday, etc.
Linda Brink May 17, 2018 8:39am
How about, “ How does this make you feel?”.
Tam May 17, 2018 7:50am
Please don't say, "call me if you need something." I think most people sincerely wanted me to call for almost anything I needed, but it put the burden on me to reach out, and I was almost catatonic from the death of my mother. In my father's case , he wanted to appear ok, so he would say, he was ok and didn't need anything. Instead , just do something! Take dinner over, walk their dog for them, invite them over to watch tv, offer to grab a couple of things for them at the grocery. Helping fill the most basic of needs without being asked, is really supportive. I had a friend who would say, "I'm running errands this afternoon. Want to ride along?" It was perfect.
Laurie Pullins May 17, 2018 7:41am
I’m recovering from major back surgery and down for the count. And can’t drive for two weeks. I’ve appreciated those who have said, “call me if you need anything” or “I’ll be over Tuesday to do anything you need me to do around the house and then we’ll go to lunch if you feel up to it.” I have to have bandages changed every day so I’ve appreciated those who said, “Let me know if you need someone to come change your bandage.” I also have to walk every day but can’t do it alone. I’ve asked friends to come walk with me and they are happy to do so. Bringing food and flowers do wonders! And a pharmacy friend brought laxatives to help me get “moving again” after a week. Humble yourself because people want to help you!
Joe B Gemmill May 16, 2018 8:09pm
You can ASK if the person if they are OK with a prayer. They may be at the angry stage and that my include God. Been there. Pushing your faith on someone tends to be a put-off, not a comfort, but asking gently may show an open heart. (stage 4 non-Hodgkins, agressive...survivor)
F Margo Hornback May 16, 2018 4:14pm
PLEASE, if you don't go to church with the hurting one, keep your expressions of faith to yourself. That's all about you, and nothing to do with me. It's about as useful or comforting as asking what someone did to get their disease or illness. Thank you for caring enough to censor yourselves.
Gayla D May 16, 2018 12:24pm
This stinks! Let’s pray about this.
Mary Heaton May 16, 2018 9:38am
it all depends on the individual --- sometimes just sitting in silence holding someone's hand also is comforting --- or sending a card in the mail is wonderful too --- so many wonderful cards to choose from these days too ---- blank card saying thinking of you or here's a hug or whatever ---- i love to send cards so that's what i do ---
Joe McCarty May 16, 2018 8:43am
Avoid platitudes such as "What doesn't kill you will make you stronger" and "It's God's will." God does not inflict evil onto anyone, but He will provide the strength and courage to deal with it.
Bill Pearce May 16, 2018 8:41am
I have said after the person has shared, “and that’s no fun.”
Geri May 16, 2018 8:39am
When my sweet sister was diagnosed ALS a friend sent me a card that said “If I could I’d send you a million hugs”. That stuck with me.
Geri May 16, 2018 8:38am
When my sweet sister was diagnosed ALS a friend sent me a card that said “If I could I send you a million hugs”. That stuck with me.
Bill Miller May 16, 2018 8:32am
Hi Brent this is Bill Miller. I'm still in Texas, but I'm leaving on Sunday morning to go home and to be home on the 28th of May. Hopefully when I get home and get settled a little bit I can stop and see you. How are you still living in Wyoming where I was once before.? Some of the information we are getting sounds positive for you, and that's really good. God is good all the time. I'm sure people have said that but it really is true. You are on my prayer list hope to see you soon.
Hanna May 16, 2018 8:00am
Would you like me to massage your feet ? I'm with you in this, let me vacuum your room. I will be bringing over dinner tonite. I'm holding you in my heart and prayers.
Margo Geller May 16, 2018 7:54am
I love “this stinks!” There is nothing more powerful then stating a difficult truth with nonverbal signs of love and compassion. Maintain eye contact and then give them a hug.
Dan Williams May 16, 2018 7:46am
I have endured two autologous bone marrow transplants, so I know about the pain many of you are suffering. What we do about our attitude when the pain is occurring is critically important. In other words, there are only two reactions: why is this happening to me, or what good can come of this? If you choose the latter approach, that's what we believers call surrendering. God, or the universe if you prefer, will either heal you, and life will go back to normal (or a new normal), or it won't. You cannot control how long or how deep the pain is anymore than you can understand why it has occurred in the first place. By accepting your pain, whether it is temporary or permanent, you are surrendering and accepting your dilemma. We believers know that God uses ALL situations for good. You might be the object of the pain and suffering, but others around you are being impacted and that is most often for a greater good. Perhaps your pain is making them change their attitude, take stock of their life, or at minimum be more sympathetic to others? No one knows for certain. Believers have just accepted that there is a plan, not just random chaos, and that we cannot know the plan because we're not a supernatural being,. Accepting the plan (as much as we don't like it) and trusting that good is coming from it, one way or the other, is at the core of our belief. I apologize if a believer doesn't ask you next time if it's okay to pray for you, then says a prayer with you in that moment. I agree saying I am praying for you is an easy excuse, and frankly, doesn't allow you (as a non-believer I presume) to experience for yourself the "power" that one might feel in the moment of praying. Even if you don't believe in the "God" this person is praying to on your behalf, I am certain a moment or two of peaceful, selfless meditation cannot be a bad thing. Thank you for your posting, and I hope my comments are helpful in some small way!
Julie in DC May 16, 2018 7:45am
Something a friend said when I received my cancer diagnosis: "We'll get through this." So simple, helpful and loving.
Ellen Lebowitz May 16, 2018 7:34am
I wish you didn't have to go through this. But you're strong and I know you will come through this successfully.
Marion Heinz May 16, 2018 7:25am
The other day I ran into Friend who had just been diagnosed with a brain tumor. The first words out of my mouth as we were hugging were " what the heck." She responded immediately with, "I know. Right?" We are both Christians but those words she didnt need at that moment. They will come later.
linda May 16, 2018 6:56am
Don't say, "I know so and so who had that and blah, blah blah". We all know someone who had something but it's about ME not so and so. Right now I don't care about so and so
Jts May 15, 2018 11:59pm
I personally really object to anyone who says “I am praying for you”. It is so easy to say and then do nothing, I come from a family of people who pray and am worn out by their inability to give any practical help beyond “praying”. It might work for believers, but even then, many of us could be feeling “Why has god let this happen to me!?”. I respectfully suggest being very careful with the offer of prayer. It might make the offeror feel better, but not guaranteed to be positively received nor be helpful support to the person suffering.
T H May 15, 2018 7:30pm
A friend was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. We were going to be away from him for an extended period of time. Every couple weeks we sent a card wishing him well. When we got together again in the fall, his wife said it was something he looked forward to and always made his day when he got them. During the winter a couple other friends and I would take him out for lunch. Not only was it good for him, but it gave his wife a break as well.
Jane May 15, 2018 7:05pm
Can I help?
Karen May 15, 2018 1:21pm
I was in college (35 yrs ago) when my father became terminally ill & died. I just appreciated anyone who asked about him or how I was doing. Very few adults did (friends of my parents, parents of my friends -- maybe only 4 or 5!) and about as many kids/my own friends showed concern. Everyone was probably feeling for us, and I knew it might have been uncomfortable for them to ask, but those who did made it seem like a natural question, and that they weren't afraid of listening to my answer. Many people on the outside might think we'd rather not be thinking or talking about our situation, but (in my case anyway, especially at my age), I felt isolated & wanted people to show they cared that I was going through a difficult time -- not pretend it wasn't happening. I didn't expect them to fix anything, or even offer to help. It just felt better to know that someone cared, and was willing to put themselves out there to let me know. (Now that we have communities like Caring Bridge, people probably feel more comfortable expressing concern, but I encourage everyone to connect with patients & caregivers in person from time to time (drop off flowers, a book, a poem, prayer, or friendly photo ), and not just type words.
Judy Welles May 15, 2018 1:06pm
When I told a close, long-time friend about my cancer diagnosis, her immediate response was "Oh, SHIT!" That has remained my favorite response. Probably my second favorite would be "I'm coming over with dinner tomorrow." I haven't read all the comments, and YMMV tremendously, but among my friends anything resembling "Let go and let God" would not be welcomed.
Mary May 15, 2018 10:48am
I generally try to help in a small way then add "thank you for trusting me enough to let me help you." Once that connection is made with anyone, I think those in need are more willing to open up to others. Many people find it difficult and vulnerable to ask for and receive assistance. It is a brave move to let go and receive. It is a skill which God asks us to do with him every day. As the saying goes... Let go and let God.
Helen Moritz May 15, 2018 7:35am
I am Here for you if you need me for anything and I will continue praying for you my friend. Just remember I love you and will be beside you all The way.
Sr. Paul Mary Janssens May 15, 2018 7:30am
Know that you are in my prayers!
Lonnie May 14, 2018 5:06pm
“I’m here for you all the way” is good ????
nydia barardo May 14, 2018 4:58pm
I like to let them know I’m praying for them. I also like to say God is still on His throne. And, thank you for keeping us posted.?
Dolores May 14, 2018 3:37pm
In my group of increasingly aging women the most caring first comment is "Well, shit!" Followed by "Do you want chocolate or butterscotch on your sundae?"
Sharon May 14, 2018 10:11am
I’m praying for you.
POOCH May 14, 2018 9:20am
Just let them know you love and support them. Keep in touch! Just check-in, and let them know you're thinking about them, support them, and are willing to help, in whatever capacity. Since I was diagnosed with Stage 4 MBCc, a lot of my 'friends' have not even called/spoke to me. Not sure if they're scared, or don' t know what to say, but saying nothing really hurts more than saying the "wrong thing".
Linda V. May 14, 2018 9:19am
I think keeping with the present is always good...”How are you feeling right now?” Is an important way to start. And then just careful listening.
Matthew MacGregor May 14, 2018 8:57am
Would you like a red, blue or black pen to check this box off your list?
Lisa Collins May 14, 2018 8:37am
At times hardship people asked me how they could help. In the moment, I could never think of anything. It meant so much to me when a friend organized meals for us. For a week, someone would arrive with a fresh dinner and return for dishes two days later. We didn't have to coordinate anything. Another friend called and said, you are driving a lot to doctors. Is there a day I can detail your car for you? The next time we got in our now clean car, it really brought us joy. We remain filled with gratitude to our friends.
Sheryl Dillon-Jones May 11, 2018 10:13am
Encouragement is always the best choice. I always tell people, I will pray for them and sometimes am able to ask if we can pray on the spot which results in positive words for healing and strength. Also, if I say I'm sorry I say I am sorry you have to go through this and with Cancer and some common diseases that are very challenging I usually know someone who has beat it and I tell them of their success story without revealing too much info or names to protect their identity. Hope is a Master Key when it comes to healing
Sandee Kosmo May 11, 2018 9:57am
I would add: I'm pulling for you. Hang in there. God bless. Love you so much.
Teresa McElhinny May 11, 2018 9:57am
Platitudes will slip out. Sometimes there just are no words, and I think that's a good thing to say. "There are no words." I also agree with Elaine McVety and others that the caregiver (or patient if able) doesn't have the wherewithal right away to delegate things different people can do to help, and at critical times those things could change anyway. So don't think it isn't appreciated if your "let me know how I can help" isn't met with a concrete answer. But just communicating a desire to be present and helpful means a lot. Hugs are always good IMO.
Judith Martinez May 11, 2018 7:40am
I'm here for you, whatever I can do to help you through this I will!
Caroline Wood May 11, 2018 7:13am
Thank you! I'm very glad to have permission to say That sucks!!
Deborah Alborell May 11, 2018 12:29am
Some years ago a woman I hadn't seen in a long time responded to my query "How are you doing?" by telling me the story of how her aged dad (who had been given the wrong medication for depression) had shot her mother and then himself. I had no words so just put out my arms. She came into them for a hug and had a nice cry. It was a special moment for both of us.
Meg May 10, 2018 12:08pm
I agree with the people that said the following is not a good thing to say: what can I do to help? That's too open-ended for the family going through what's happening. Please just tell them what you are going to do, then do it when it is a good time for them.... too hard to come up with more decisions during a rough time....
Elaine McVety May 10, 2018 10:20am
I read all of the comments below. A point that many made is, don’t ask what you can do. Instead, say, I will bring supper on . . . People in crisis do not always have the ability to make decisions; in fact, they are making too many (treatment plans, funeral plans, etc.) and their brains often can’t handle anymore. Studies have shown that each decision made, makes the next one harder. Instead, make the suggestions, or, if you know something needs to be done, just do it. The person who offered his driveway for the critically ill brother’s car did the perfect thing.
Elaine McVety May 10, 2018 9:59am
This is terrible news for you, and I wish I could do something to help. If you want or need to talk, I will listen. If you want to just sit, I will sit. If a hug helps, I will give it. I am here for you.
Stan Peterson May 10, 2018 8:50am
How about "I'm going to be praying for you." assuming the person would appreciate this spiritual dimension. Of course, then you do pray for that person.
Doug May 10, 2018 7:34am
"This stinks"--that's better than saying "I'm sorry?" Really?
Felicia Hamlin May 09, 2018 3:43pm
I am here for you, this song made me think about you, i think about you often. We have been condtioned to say “I am sorry”, but there are many things we can tell those who are experiencing tough times.
Peggy May 09, 2018 3:09pm
How about a simple, "I don't know what to say, except to let you know that my heart is with you."
Debby Whetzel May 09, 2018 2:12pm
If I want to say sorry that’s what I want to say. Suggesting what could be said is fine. It’s always hard to know what to say, but sorry has always been good. I have had cancer and sorry was good to hear.
Barb Brumfield May 09, 2018 1:06pm
Thanks for the heads up. It is hard to know what to say during those hard times.
Margaret Weller May 09, 2018 9:29am
Thank you so much for this guidance. Sometimes I find myself tripping over to offer loving support but can get it so wrong. With my love, Maggie
Julie May 09, 2018 8:42am
Anything I can do to help make you day/s better?
Elaine May 09, 2018 8:17am
What can I do for you? Have a few suggestions ready like “get some books? Do an errand? Bring food? Drive u to an appointment?”
Robert Mason May 09, 2018 7:51am
I am praying for X healing and your peace and comfort during this time of trial
Kathleen DeRosa May 09, 2018 7:22am
Let's pray together
Cherrie May 09, 2018 7:12am
Friends and family sometimes say if you need anything call and when you do, a thousand and one excuses are given. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it. Sometimes a hug is all that’s needed.
Chris May 08, 2018 9:54pm
Give me a reason not to come : to visit you, to help you in the yard, stay with _____ while you run errands or get some exercise, etc. I found as a caregiver that when my friends put it that way it was easier for me to accept their help.
jane May 08, 2018 11:45am
I was about to have surgery a few years ago and I had mentioned this to someone I had recently met in physical therapy. A few days before she asked me where I was having the the operation and what day and time. I asked her if she worked in that hospital and wanted to keep an eye out for me. I never forget her response: "No!" She said, putting a reassuring arm around my shoulder. " I just want you to know that I will be praying for you at that time! That's all I can do. But I will do it" It was as if the universe had sent an angel to watch over me. PS...The surgery was a success! :)
MED May 08, 2018 10:45am
How can I help?
Rich DeMeyer May 08, 2018 9:37am
An excellent book on this topic is “Don’t Sing Songs To A Heavy Heart” by Kenneth C. Baugh, Ph. D. Another book by Haugk is Cancer Now What? Taking action, finding hope, and navigating the journey ahead. Both are available through Stephen Ministeries.
JAMES BROWN May 08, 2018 8:55am
A seventh response: This must be a very difficult time for you. I want you to know that I will be praying for healing and peace for you [and in the case of a caregiver, name and relationship of the patient to the caregiver].
Lorna Dobson May 06, 2018 4:14pm
"I hope you'll receive the kind of support you need on this journey. I'll pray for you now and in the days ahead even if I cannot be of physical help to you."
Joanna Rice May 04, 2018 11:00pm
Well this wasn’t in the plan
Bobbie A. May 03, 2018 12:29pm
How about something like "Is there anything I can do to help you?" or "How can I be of help to you?"
Mary May 03, 2018 11:59am
I don't have words to express how much I hurt for and with you. That said, I stand with you and will do all I can to help you through this. One way to help is to send notes, jokes, stories - anything that will distract my friend for a few moments and help him/her laugh. Laughter is good medicine.
Ann Jenkins May 02, 2018 7:29pm
Im here for you always! <3
susan c. briggs May 02, 2018 9:50am
I'm here with you. What can I do to help you.
Cynthia Cavanaugh May 02, 2018 9:42am
You’ve got this and prayers for you always ,
Sally Ericksen May 02, 2018 7:18am
It's not always helpful to say "I'm praying for you." Be sure the person you're addressing shares your belief system.
Cathy Ennon May 01, 2018 5:08pm
Thank you for showing us all how to be strong and courageous in the face of difficult times. You are a master teacher!
Lesa Lackey May 01, 2018 11:57am
Happy Anniversary Diane !!
Lesa Lackey May 01, 2018 11:55am
"I wish you didn't have to go through all this".
P Smoot May 01, 2018 8:03am
Wishing for you excellent care and a speedy return to some normalcy.
Michelle Apr 30, 2018 5:10pm
Happy Anniversary Diane.. You are blessed to have a wonderful husband and have been married for 47 years.
Diane Apr 30, 2018 9:57am
I don’t like when someone says , if there is anything I can do let me know! No I won’t, just do something nice. Whether it’s a note, a call, a meal, or dessert. I’d would like anything. I feel so alone a lot. My husband has had bladder cancer for 2 years with all the ups and downs. It’s very had to be a caregiver, but I do it because he’s my love, my life and he’d do it for me. We’ve married for 47 years May 1!
Dave Wolffe Apr 29, 2018 9:28am
When you want to talk about your ... I am there to listen. I'm here for you. I had Bladder Cancer and knowing others were there and kept in touch consistently was a really positive thing for me.
Barb Cukauskas Apr 29, 2018 7:41am
What can I do to help you? Today, tomorrow. How about I cook Sunday dinner? 5 o'clock delivery ok?
Pamela Apr 28, 2018 1:03pm
Many are awesome alternative responses to "I'm sorry". As a former Hospice R.N. of many years as well as a Christian, I would advise to be very careful to preach "have faith - God can heal you." This was said to my mother decades ago, who had the faith of Job. and yet continued in a very long, and painful cancer until her death. The added pain of thinking her faith wasn't enough for God to heal her added to her devastation.
Pat Kurt Apr 28, 2018 10:22am
Use your own gifts to help the recipient. I like the visit if possible, phone call, card, give a ride, recipe and day/time for a meal, offer to take recipient out for meal, coffee, flowers, chore ie. mow lawn, shovel snow, water plants, pet care, run errands etc!
Robert Shafer / April 28, 2018 10:05am Apr 28, 2018 7:05am
Look to our Great God of forgiveness and healing. He loves you and can heal you. I will pray for you.
styler Apr 27, 2018 9:10pm
A friend's husband is in the late stages of a very long battle with cancer. She is his caregiver and prefers not to leave the house. I told her to call me any time of the day or night. I invite myself over and bring her lunch. I purchase hair color and dye her hair. I help her organize her medical supplies. I sit with him and hold his hand. And I let her know I pray for her strength and peace.
k bartholomew Apr 27, 2018 7:32pm
How about an envelope full of coupons for picking up a prescription, a ride to the doctor or hairdresser, an offer for a massage, a gentle hug, making a favorite recipe, delivering, takeout, taking care of pets, mowing the lawn for a month, a fresh cut flowers, grocery shopping, paying an electric bill or providing gas money? These practical gifts are priceless. And don't forget the caregivers.
Elizabeth Whatley Apr 27, 2018 2:51pm
Is there anything I can do to help?
Elizabeth Whatley Apr 27, 2018 2:50pm
I will be praying for you and your family.
Hank Apr 27, 2018 7:51am
We worry too much about what to say because we can't tolerate our seeming helplessness. Worst case, we abandon someone as a result Show up. The words will follow. Or no words. Shared silence is deep sharing too.
Jehanne Marchesi Apr 27, 2018 5:27am
As a 90 year old invalid (bone trouble) what I really appreciate are long phone calls or visits that keep me in touch with my world. Also e-mails and advice on or loan of books, since reading is a fantastic help in the inevitable solitude of being housebound.The offer of running errands - those that a busy family finds it dificult to add to their daily life - is also so very welcome. The need to keep in touch is very important.
maria Moniz Apr 26, 2018 5:36pm
Suggest ways to help and ask them which they prefer...action can be better than words!
JWNewby Apr 26, 2018 3:31pm
1. You know I will always be there for you. 2. This may sound like a cliche, but I'm serious - if you need help with anything please allow me to assist you. 3. I'll be praying for you.
Rita Burfeind Apr 26, 2018 12:47pm
"Don't worry, everything is going to be all right" can be a comment that grates. Sure, maybe eventually it will be true, but how does the speaker know it will be all right. It shows insensitivity to what the person with diagnosis is going through.
dianne degnan Apr 26, 2018 12:21pm
Is there something I can do for you?
Valerie Paul Apr 26, 2018 11:30am
To all the well-meaning people who offer to pray... please be sure the person you’re talking to is a person of faith. Hard as it may be for you to understand, for those of us who are not believers, an offer of prayers may be more annoying than helpful. A casserole or a ride or just a hug would be more helpful. (But feel free to keep us in your prayers anyway!)
Sharlene Mar 04, 2018 8:06pm
“Be it unto you, according to your faith.”
Rhoda S. Little Feb 26, 2018 8:46am
Thank you for these suggestions. Expressions of sincere caring and love for the person and family always need sensitive words.
Tammy Salstrand Dec 21, 2017 4:15pm
My husband always says, "I will pray for you." The recipient always responds with a "thank you."
Kelley Hughes Dec 21, 2017 10:29am
If you are visiting members of your workplace or congregation, a few other expressions of support might be: * We miss seeing you. * Your absence is deeply felt. *Your work has meant so much to us.
Marianne SIMMS Dec 18, 2017 8:27pm
Good Advise!
Teresa DiServio Dec 18, 2017 3:01pm
I like to tell those recently diagnosed with end-stage cancer that they can be in control of their health, and to provide hope, I give the example of my Mother. My Mom was diagnosed at age 71 with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer and told she wouldn't live for more than 6 months. Not long after that, the doctors and well-meaning Hospice care workers were trying to prepare us (her children) for her death, and said she'd never walk again. She eventually told them to leave her house and she ended up not only walking again, but also lived for another 9+ years! Her determination was her secret I believe... she never gave up or gave in.
Robin Wiley Dec 17, 2017 7:38pm
I have followed the healing of four friends on CaringBridge, two recovered two did not. I have been a caregiver in some form all my life (professional and amateur statis)There was a point in my life where I was consumed by caregiving. I was caring for my Mother had dementia along with a long history of mental illness and diabetes, my son whom was having emotional problems associated with Autism and I was going through menpause. My son's English teacher came up tp me one day and said, "You took time for yourself" I was taken aback. She was not only a teacher, but a friend who had just lost her husband to cancer. Her statement was heart felt, she was recognising an important point. I took time for myself which is the last thing most caregivers do. She was saying this in a very comforting and supportive way. Only another caregiver can really apriciate the selfless act of taking the time to washing and blow dry your hair or put on some lipstick. Loosing yourself in the caregiving world is so easy, everyone comes before you. Having someone recognise you through all the trappings of caregiving is empowering. So when you see a caregiver reassure them they are still a person first who happens to be a caregiver.
M.A. Linde Dec 17, 2017 6:47pm
Many thanks for he above suggestions to replace simply, "I'm sorry."
James Hoyt Dec 16, 2017 6:55pm
I have found that if you know the patient it is best to share an experience where you may have felt silly. That way your friend can reciprocate and feel like they are helping you.
Cullen Dauchy Dec 16, 2017 6:25pm
I'll be praying for you and your loved one (or family, or friend).
Alison Dec 16, 2017 5:58pm
A Family Story Imagine a child of Edwardian England, born when a new century had barely begun. It would prove to be a century of unimaginable change, progress, and tragedy, and my mother, the child Constance Beryl Horton, would witness most of it. At age six, this child was the orphan of a tubercular father and a mother, the kind and beautiful Louisa, who was said to have “died of a broken heart.” Make of that what you will. The extended family was large, and the orphans were taken in by near kin to be raised as their own. One of Louisa’ sisters, Ruth, had some years before, gone to America to recover from an unfortunate engagement. Ruth’s fiancé and his lover whom, I presume, was unknown to the family, dispatched themselves in a double suicide. (My family never wanted for drama.) Still living in America, Ruth met and married Joe Curran, a happy but childless marriage. When word of the tragedy reached them, Joe booked passage for Ruth who would sail to England and return with a child. Ruth asked if he would like a boy; “Just bring back a child” he said. By now, the year was 1912. Constance was six and in the care of her aging grandparents. Sometimes her grandmother sent her up to bed without her tea for small infractions. She was spared by her grandfather who would tiptoe to her room with more than enough to satisfy. When Ruth arrived and met the children, she saw that the boys weren’t eager to move to America. “Couldn’t even pronounce it properly,” Grandmother Ruth told me years and years later. Constance took a small step forward, and said “I’ll go with you, Auntie Ruth.” To be continued…
Judith Fetler Dec 16, 2017 12:16pm
As a terminal cancer patient myself, I agree with many of the previous suggestions. The comment I love the very best was something I read, a rather salty comeback to such a situation. To paraphrase: "Well, so Plan A didn't work out. Then let's just kick the s**t out of Plan B!" For the right person, like me, this is the absolute best!
Carol Schuler Dec 16, 2017 11:41am
I'm sorry you're going through this.
Kriesha Britton Dec 16, 2017 9:35am
It might be nice to hear "How can I help? A person dealing with an illness may not see the need for help at first, but this question provides an open invitation if and when a person becomes ready to accept.
Catherine Eldridge Dec 16, 2017 9:11am
I'd like to help. Can I come clean, bring food, pick up the kids?
Belita Dec 16, 2017 8:41am
One of the main thing is to let them know that you will be praying for them. Prayer is the key because all sickness do not lead to death,
Solon Ray Ekhoff Dec 16, 2017 7:59am
why is not the request to pray about the problem not asked for?
Caprice Mayhew Dec 16, 2017 5:03am
I'm praying for you Is there anything I can do? Around the house? Talk about good times from the past, or maybe something to do in the future to look forward to
Tomm Stewart Dec 15, 2017 4:45pm
"I can't really say I'm 'happy' to be here, because your not feeling well, but I wouldn't have it any other way." Or, "to see you is the highlight of my day."
Vicki Burch Dec 15, 2017 12:04pm
Love the 6 positive expressions of support. Thank you for sharing.
Dana Christman Dec 15, 2017 11:19am
When my two stepsons died in a horrible, horrible car wreck, a person came by who said, "I don't have the words...there are no words." That was absolutely fine. Much better than many other platitudes, like, "They aren't suffering any more," or "They are in a better place." And now, 24 years later, I still remember so very well someone who asked, "Is there anything I can do for you ?" Yes, there actually was. In our enormous grief and a house full of family from out of state, I just couldn't face going to the store to face all the people I knew I would encounter, but needed some aspirin for a terrible headache. She seemed surprised that that was what I wanted, but quickly brought the aspirin to me. I was so thankful; she had no idea how much she helped by doing that small thing. But, at that point in time, it meant so much to me. I still remember that inncredible gesture of help.
Jo-Ann Bach Dec 15, 2017 10:05am
It is good to see you
Donna Bath Dec 15, 2017 8:49am
I’m so glad you’ve told me. This will help me know how to feel helpful.
Pam Goulet Dec 15, 2017 8:46am
Is there anything I can do that will make things a little easier for you?
Pamela Hill Dec 15, 2017 8:12am
As a patient I want to endorse the suggestion of ROBYN on Dec 14. So many say to call on them anytime but that is difficult to do. Offering concrete help....here are three recipes, which would you like to receive and when?...is by far the best.
MG Dec 15, 2017 7:56am
You've got this! You aren't alone in this journey. I'm here for you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do.
Donna Vermeer Dec 15, 2017 7:06am
I wish this wasn’t happening to you. I still see you as the energizer bunny. I love you.
Elizabeth H Gosselin Dec 15, 2017 12:22am
One of my favorite things is to read the comments on my Caringbridge site, and I tell people that is a way that they can be there for me - just knowing and reacting to what is happening. Caringbridge allowed me to share my life and be surrounded with love while my husband was sick. Now he is gone and it is my turn. I also encourage them to donate. (This is not a paid political announcement :-) )
Alicia Kerns Dec 15, 2017 12:16am
Instead of saying I'm sorry, you could say something like, I'm praying for you.
Sherry McReynolds Dec 15, 2017 12:02am
Never say to someone in a tough spot, "I know how you feel." You cannot possibly know, even if you have been through a similar situation. Never say, "I don't know how you do it." Neither do they. They think, "What else would I do?" Never tell someone, "I'm praying for you." That sounds harsh, but if you are both people of faith - the better thing to do is have face-to-face contact. SHOW UP. As you are leaving take the person's hand and ASK if you can pray WITH them. Keep it very short. One or two sentences. If the contact is only phone, you can do a version of the same thing. The important thing is to keep the contact about the loved one that is suffering in the moment. Long stories about your dead wife's by-pass surgery are about you. It's what many visitors do to fill a silence that doesn't need to be filled, and ease their own awkwardness. If someone loses a spouse, don't begin every conversation with, "How are you doing?" They will learn to say, "Fine." Let them learn that from someone else. Call or write and start the conversation (for example)..."I was at Walmart and saw this...and it reminded me of the time the four of us went to The Virgin Islands. Good times! I think of you so often" - or words to that effect. Look for opportunities to say, "Hey, I was just thinking about you!" Finally, if someone has to bury a child, and words fail...that's not a bad thing to say. Go to the store, buy a blank card with a beautiful image, and simply say "Words fail... All our love," and sign it. Not acknowledging a devastating loss is a regret that will not improve over time. Addressing unimaginable pain should be done in the moment. It's an act of kindness that pays off for your relationship going forward.
Belva McKann Dec 14, 2017 11:57pm
You're not alone.
Beth Brown Dec 14, 2017 11:47pm
I have to post this extremely wrong response. I had a friend of 9 years. We were pretty close. Once I told her about my cancer (stage 4 ) these were her exact words. “ I don’t want to talk about cancer, I just want to have fun with you.” We are no longer friends.
Sandi Bowen Dec 14, 2017 11:44pm
On ‘what not to say,’ when I tell someone that I’m not going to get better and/or I AM going to get worse - and I get responses like ‘oh, you’ll get better; you’ll get stronger, you’ll see; oh no you won’t!; look for a better doctor.’ I’m not trying to be a drama queen, but I’m not going to improve. I have one of the top soine syrgwons in the country, and when he tells me what’s going to happen next and that I can’t ‘go back,’ shows me the MRIs and where the bones crushed the nerves, I’m sure that he’s telling me how it is. I don’t dare tell people that I will most likely die earlier than I should due to lack of being able to exercise at all and that my organs are getting smashed more all the time; I already hear, ‘You must stay active,’ from well-meaning people. Oops sorry for my venting! I just wanta punch the forced ‘happy outlook’ people.
Joyce Dec 14, 2017 8:42pm
As a single person with no family who is living with cancer, what I most appreciate are the friends who will ask me if I want to do lunch or supper or go to a movie or some other activity. They would go with me to treatment if I wanted them to but what I most need is to get out of the house once in a while to do something fun to take my mind off the situation. Also, getting a "thinking of you" card in the mail brightens a day.
Brenda Dec 14, 2017 8:39pm
You know that I would change this if I could! I'm with you for the long haul! You mean a lot to me!
Debra S. Dec 14, 2017 8:36pm
If the person has breast cancer, do not assume they want to be hugged or patted on the back or shoulder. Ask first! Some reconstruction incisions are not where you expect them to be.
Marty Dec 14, 2017 8:32pm
"Is there anything I can do to help?" (...if you are truly willing to help.)
anne Dec 14, 2017 8:27pm
as a car giver and as person with walking disability i have appreciated anyone simply saying "thank you"
Pamela Dec 14, 2017 7:45pm
All wonderful things! I was over and done with "I'm so sorry." It made me start despising that....it's three of the most overused words. I love the idea someone posted about a list of recipes they could make! Priceless! Like take out but way better!!
Robyn Dec 14, 2017 7:35pm
Offer practical help - here is a list of recipes I can make and deliver to you, please pick a few and let me know which days you need them. I can pick up prescriptions or do your grocery shopping. Do you need a ride to treatment? If you're visiting in the hospital, bring up funny stories or happy memories you share with the patient. Or discuss current events. Sometimes the sick person is just tired of being sick and wants to have a normal conversation.
Doreen Linehan Dec 14, 2017 7:06pm
I want to just wrap my arms around you. Sometimes a hug says more than words can
Kelly Taylor Dec 14, 2017 7:02pm
I don’t think you should be such a curmudgeon about saying I’m sorry for crying out loud! This advise just sucks from such a “caring” site! Good grief! Disappointed in this article....
Butch Walzel Dec 14, 2017 5:01pm
A dear friend of mine has pancreadic cancer. I sent her a card and wrote: "You make me smile!" It was the best I could come up with.
Barbara Dec 14, 2017 9:21am
This is useful advice! I'm guilty of saying "I'm sorry" too often. Good to know how it might be come burdensome.
Oliver Brody Dec 14, 2017 7:26am
Another thing NOT to say is "Everyone dies some time" NOT helpful
Alenda Dec 14, 2017 7:08am
This is positive info my favorite is “this stinks”
Kim Aug 01, 2017 5:35pm
"that is so hard. I can't even imagine" Also offer help and mean. Somebody gave me the link to this site. That was truly helpful.
Valerie Schrader Jul 26, 2017 10:32am
This must be so difficult for you. How can I help?
Shirley Miller Scroggins May 25, 2017 4:46am
I lost my first husband in 2004 to COPD and if anyone would have said to me the sarcastic comments you have noted above I would have been hurt. At a time of loss the survivors need reassurance of the Lord's love, comfort and concern for you and the promise of Salvation.
Kate Ruby May 24, 2017 12:58am
We have a prayer list at dinner in which we pray by name for family and friends who are suffering. This may help by being more specific We generally ask if they would like this done and the answer is usually yes. Perhaps by being more specific this can bring more comfort than the generic 'we're praying for you' though, in my personal experience as the wife of a stage 4 cancer survivor, prayers of all kinds were welcome.
Vicki Ebat-Selke Apr 26, 2017 2:00pm
How are you feeling now? What do you need right now? Do you want to talk about it - or not. Want to get an ice-cream cone? (coffee, cookie, Jamba Juice). If not today ask if they would mind you asking again later. Suggest next week or month etc. and let them decide. If you don't hear from them do something non intrusive to let them know you're thinking of them - leave a helium balloon or flowers and a note on the porch. Email - or even better send a card snail mail with the same offer for an ice cream cone etc.
TAMMY TURK Apr 25, 2017 2:35pm
Can I give you a hug? I remember being at the hospital with my granddaughter that was in DKA and just diagnosed with T1D while babysitting her and her siblings and her parents were on a trip to MX and trying to get home ASAP. The mother of a close friend of our daughters that I did not actually know came up to check on us and pray for me and asked if she could give me a hug. It was something I really needed right then as my husband was watching the boys and could not be there with me.
Jo-Ann Bach Apr 25, 2017 6:00am
I will keep you in my prayers daily as you travel this journey. Feel free to contact me for assistance.
Ann Peitsch Apr 25, 2017 1:53am
I/we are praying for you !
Ivan Mulder Apr 22, 2017 7:50pm
For a death, ask "What is a favorite memory you have of....?" When my wife was in the hospital for several months recovering from total paralysis, visits from immediate family members were appreciated the most. She preferred not have others see her in her desperate condition. However, visits from family and others are what kept me going. The least appreciated thing people said in her presence was, "Just be patient!"
Elug J-Lynne Apr 21, 2017 7:06pm
So face one day or moment at a time and keep me in the loop.
Jenifer Funk Apr 21, 2017 3:37pm
Walking with you in sorrow.
Terra Apr 20, 2017 2:24pm
After my cancer diagnosis, some of the words I appreciated most were really practical observations, like, "Well, this is certainly inconvenient." Because it was! Sometimes I needed acknowledgement of the obvious disruptions to my life, in addition to the heavy emotional words of support.
martel emmons Apr 20, 2017 11:45am
I'm sorry but what is wrong with "I'm sorry"? "This stinks"? Yeah, that's much better. I guess I'm getting old or something but if this is where we've come in our "progressive" society, that's a problem. But I'm probably wrong. I'm sorry.
Joyce Munger Apr 20, 2017 10:40am
1) My heart strings are with you and your family. 2) Please know my arms surround you even when I'm not at your side 3) I'm sending you a virtual bouquet trusting it will 'color' your world today. 4) You are so precious...we will walk through this journey together. 5) My prayers will continue to surround you daily.
Shawn m wilson Apr 19, 2017 8:48pm
I agree with Pamela Lear. I recently lost my husband to cancer. I lost my mom to this horrific disease too. Hospice offers suggestions. It is always better to say what you can do to help. Such as I'll bring dinner Monday. I can drive you etc. many people don't want to bother you.
Carol Stafford Apr 19, 2017 6:32pm
I don't know what to say, but how can I help you?
Sheila Apr 19, 2017 6:11pm
God is with you so that He can give you strength and gentleness. He will never leave us alone.
Nancy Fleury Apr 19, 2017 4:44pm
If someone ill and living alone, call them and offer to run to the store, offer to make them something to eat and ask what time is best to bring it over, when is a good time to visit, if they feel up to it. Caregivers often need time of respite, and could use someone to stay with the ill person for several hours. Be specific with offers to help such as : I can help with the grocery shopping or errand running on certain days and times, or let me give you a break from caregiving tomorrow afternoon around 2pm as examples.
Janice Albuquerque Apr 19, 2017 4:42pm
This is a difficult time, if you need anything at all, even to just talk, call me. Friends are forever, during the good and the difficult times. I`m here for you to help during these trying times. I and my family will be praying for you everyday to have the courage and hope to win this battle.
Nina Galin Apr 19, 2017 3:38pm
Thanks for this, very helpful. Thanks for reminding me to focus on connection.
Janet ILTIS Apr 19, 2017 3:07pm
I wish this wasn't happening to you. I think if it was me I would like some help at home so I'd like to help you out at home. I want you to know I am here for you and would be happy to do whatever you need.
Shirley George Apr 19, 2017 3:02pm
What can I do to help? I will be keeping in touch.
Mimi Neff Apr 19, 2017 2:37pm
My pet peeve, is people who say "Sorry for your loss" when someone has died and "sorry for your loved one" after a diagnosis. There must be better expressions of sympathy. These are trite knee jerk reactions with no empathy for what the person or family is going through. Lets try to make these comments a thing of the past and come up with more comments like those below.
Taylor Watkins Apr 19, 2017 2:29pm
"How can I help? May I drive you to your treatments?" "May I bring you dinner? What are some of your favorite foods right now?" "May I drive your kiddo to soccer practice or ballet lessons?" "I would love to pray for you."
Christy A Larsen Apr 19, 2017 11:31am
If you need to talk to someone, I'm available any time.
joe momma Apr 19, 2017 10:43am
....how you holdin' up??........
Den Apr 19, 2017 10:34am
Keep the Faith
Ronnie Weiss Apr 19, 2017 10:25am
I'm here to support you. Let me know if you need to talk
Donna Fike Apr 19, 2017 10:10am
This information is great. The only other response I have heard since my husband has had a stroke, is: I want to help or I know you must be struggling, what can i do to help? In many cases the answer (my answer) is 'We would appreciate your prayers'.
Rose Garbulinski Apr 19, 2017 10:06am
When my brother came to live with me he brought his large vehicle. We have three cars and we have a single driveway and it is short. My neighbor offered his driveway for my brother to park his vehicle. That was huge. A couple of months later, he did pass away and three of my neighbors brought over enough food for us for a week and also had masses said. They did ask if there is anything they can do, just ask. My other friends also brought over food. They also talked about all the good attributes my brother had - all good things, it was such a comfort! I will never forget it.
Diane Keefe Apr 19, 2017 9:27am
I wish this wasn't happening to you and am looking forward to when you are feeling strong. Can't wait until you are back in the saddle again! I miss seeing you!
Jennifer Murphy Apr 19, 2017 9:18am
How can I help you?
bow walker Apr 19, 2017 9:09am
One of the things I often say, "No words can express my feelings. What is it I can do?" I also say, "Would you like to talk about 'anything'?" and there are times when having known the person we talk about 'life after here'. There is often humor, seriousness and an array of various things that are said depending on how well I know the person. I have had many experiences so, it is not difficult for me to assure people (from my own experience) of life after 'here'. Sometimes, it is simply a sincere hug and eye to eye contact. Our quiet spirit can say volumes. I think being your authentic self in awareness of the sacred moment is best and I like prayer. Offer whatever peace we can, even just a gentle touch, holding someone's hand. Be in the moment with sincerity , trust GS (Great Spirit/God) to Divinely guide you and I always end by saying, "Remember, no matter what happens everything will be alright." and I do mean this. Be wholly in the sacred moment and your heart will always know what to do (my experience). Share stories now to be prepared for later...Blessings all, and may all of our transitions be full of LOVE and LIGHT and inner peace of transforming to the next place. ALL life takes the ultimate journey. A'ho/Amen. PEACE BE WITH YOU. <3
Fran Apr 19, 2017 9:07am
I believe in saying sincerely and genuinely how sorry you are. Sending a "thinking of you" card, offering prayers, asking with genuine concern, "how are YOU?" Be prepared to listen & nod....no response except a heart to heart hug speaks volumes.
Judy Schield Apr 19, 2017 9:02am
Is there anything else, besides praying for you, that I can do to help you?
CAROL GURIOLI Apr 19, 2017 8:47am
thank you for telling me. I am here for you. May I pray with you? (If it is not comfortable I can always pray for them later but it is often nice to receive a prayer in person.) Is it okay to check in to see if there is any way I can be of assistance?
Janene Burkard Apr 19, 2017 8:21am
You are in my prayers as you travel this journey. I'm here for your. Call if there is something I can do for you. (And don't forget the hugs ...... lots of hugs.... personal contact with those who like the feeling of being encircled by arms that care)
Helen Graziano Apr 19, 2017 8:07am
Sue R and Debbie Drill: great suggestions. Spend some time with the person in the inner circle. And in the case of a deceased person, let them talk about that person. Laugh and cry at the same time. We did.
Eva F Apr 19, 2017 7:54am
A positive comment could be ... "I'll be praying for you all."
Brian Marks Apr 19, 2017 7:44am
we hate this for you! you don;t deserve this! lets pray together! lets celebrate when it's over! tough break but we can fight together!
Allen Apr 19, 2017 7:10am
What can I do to help ? How can I help you through this ? What do you need from me ?
Sally Cook Apr 19, 2017 6:46am
"I'm here for you."
Debra Hodgson Apr 19, 2017 6:41am
We are praying for you! Love you lots! Keep your chin up! You are one strong girl/boy!
Linda Tyson Apr 19, 2017 6:30am
These are all helpful ideas. Yesterday I made a visit and also took a thinking of you type card in which I added a few comments. "God is already there" and "I love you" were shared. Person wrote a text later to say she liked that God is already there as she was awaiting surgery for cancer. A phone call with "How are you doing?" is often helpful if a visit isn't possible.
Dottie Apr 19, 2017 5:52am
How can I help? Is there anything I could do that would help you? I will be with you as you journey through this. Pray with that person rather than just for them.
Ann Marie Apr 19, 2017 5:42am
I'm here for you in whatever way you might need.
Norma Miller Apr 19, 2017 5:40am
Call me any time if you need to talk. I love you.
PAMELA OBLEIN Apr 19, 2017 5:00am
"I don't know what to say" is MUCH better than saying nothing!!! Also..." You don't have to go through this alone... I'm here" is a great positive expression of support!
Pamela Lear Apr 19, 2017 4:39am
This is great advice. I dislike when people say "I'm sorry" because, as you mention, it is automatic and represents their surprise and discomfort more than anything. Also, what is the recipient supposed to respond to "I'm sorry?" It's awkward. The most important thing is to find a personal way to say that you care and that you are there to be supportive in whatever way is needed. HOWEVER, I think it is also inappropriate to say "What can I do to help?" as that puts the onus on them to remember your offer and to find a way for you to help - - that can feel overwhelming. It is generally better to say "I'm here for you", "I'll check in to see what I can do", "Call me anytime", etc., anything this is not a question. Ultimately, just be present, listen without judgment or offering advice, and check in without any obligation for them to respond.
Roxy Apr 19, 2017 4:28am
We told a friend who lost his wife (and my best friend) that our porch and fresh ice tea was always open. He took us up on it and we have great memories of unexpected , unplanned visits. This Same friend wrote these words to me , when my mom passsed. It was priceless. "May sweet memories soon replace the present pain you feel".
Betty Wolfson Apr 19, 2017 4:12am
I love You. I am here for you. My new title, Assistant, at your Service. Please if I 'can be of assistance' in any way, don't hesitate to ask! This is an open invitation and I will say yes whenever I am able! Remember, you are greatly Loved. ( There is a difference between asking to serve or assist, rather than Help. Sometime the word 'Help' comes with a sub text that registers as 'I can't do this.' Assist or service is more like, ' You could lift this cumbersome box alone, but wouldn't two more hands feel safer and go a lot quicker?!? )
Warren C. Plauche Apr 19, 2017 3:41am
My first response was - I'm surprised, I'm anxious, I'm angry at this thing, I love you!
Grace Apr 19, 2017 3:09am
"I will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers."
Debbie Drill Apr 19, 2017 1:20am
If you can follow through with this, the best thing you can say is "When can I come over and spend some time with you?" The best gift is the gift of your presence, sharing time and stories, laughing and crying together.
Sue R Apr 19, 2017 12:22am
Shortly after my husband died, the comment I most appreciated was "Do you want to talk about him?" YES... I did & do...all the time!
Peter Moss Apr 18, 2017 11:28pm
These suggestions are very useful. Only the other day I met a lady who I know reasonably well in our village. She was leaving her house with her husband and I said "I was just thinking I had not seen you for a while" her response was "I have breast cancer, I am going for my first treatment" . I was taken aback and could only utter "I am sorry", however I did manage to say "I will pray for you" before they said goodbye. I will be better prepared next time this happens. Thank you.
D haegeman Apr 18, 2017 11:17pm
Time for you now to take care of business so you can get on with your life.
Elaine Sokoloff Apr 18, 2017 11:02pm
Offer specific help rather than "if there's anything I can do." If you can do something say, "I'd like to do this for you"... I have found that doing dishes and clearing at a wake or memorial if it is not fully catered can be one of the best things that can be offered. Friends have said that many will bring food, but few think to help clean up, and I've done dishes and set up where that was the most obvious way that help was needed. If you do massage or bodywork, that is an incredible gift to offer as well.
Helen Graziano Apr 18, 2017 10:45pm
You can say what can I do? When we lost our son our dear neighbors cut our lawn and hosted two lunches for the afternoon and evening visitations at the funeral home for our many many out of town guests. This will never be forgotten.
Jerry Miller Apr 18, 2017 10:24pm
In my view, none of the "6 Positive Expression" is as sensitive and compassionate as simply "I'm sorry" followed by something like "How can I be helpful?" or "You are loved."
John Apr 18, 2017 10:23pm
That's a tough break.
Mary E. Rossow Apr 18, 2017 10:17pm
"... well, count me in on your cheerleading squad!"
Robin Weatherly Apr 18, 2017 9:49pm
What can I do to give you a hand?