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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What comforting words do you give friends who are suffering?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (25561 points ) August 10th, 2012

I have a good friend who is very sick. He has numerous ailments. I’ve sent him cards and letters and emails, but I’m beginning to run out of words.

How do you comfort loved ones?

What phrases or words do you find particularly useful to convey your thoughts and love?

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18 Answers

Judi's avatar

Sometimes the best thing is to just be there. That speaks way more than words.

DigitalBlue's avatar

“If there’s anything that I can do for you/to help, please don’t hesitate.” And I mean it.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@Judi was about to say something similar. I rarely know what to say in situations like that… Just show them you’re there for them, and be yourself – however cliched it may sound. Good luck!

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I’m sorry. I didn’t explain in the details that this friend lives at a great distance. Now, my ability to edit the details has passed.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake you can still be there for someone and offer to help (even from a distance). Maybe you can’t hold their hand or run to the grocery store for them, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t there for them. :)

fremen_warrior's avatar

You can setup a skype+cam hour a few times a week, just talking about what’s going on in your day-to-day life. Or pretend you’re both visiting for dinner, set up a laptop and camera at the head of your tables, each of you prepares something to eat, and it’s almost like you’re in the same room eating, drinking, talking about stuff.

picante's avatar

I’m trying to think of what I would want to hear were I very sick and very far away from someone whom I loved. I think I would want frequent words to let me know that I’m loved. That can be as simple as “I love you, dear friend” or as complex as your relationship warrants. I would also like to be reminded of happy times that we’ve shared, things that have made us laugh, maybe even some tough times that we’ve weathered together. It’s the connection that becomes important, I believe. I wish you both peace around a very difficult situation.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I just tell them I care about them, and that if I could take away their pain I would. And you could send them a little gift, something they might have talked about, as a surprise.

I think @fremen_warrior‘s suggestion is a beautiful one.

Judi's avatar

You don’t have to physically “be there” to “be there” in the virtual age. Don’t stop calling just to say, “How ya doin’ today,” and even if there is not much to say, just include him in your life.
When my life has been the hardest, I found out who my real friends were. They were the ones who insisted on being a part of my life even when I could have just as easily rolled up in a ball with a pillow over my head.

gailcalled's avatar

When I was suffering terribly, the words used were unimportant. As @Judi says so wisely, it is being there.

I too was abandoned by several whom I thought were close friends when they thought that tragedy was contagious.

And don’t say,“If there’s anything I can do to help, don’t hesitate.”

A much better question is, “What can I do?”

Mariah's avatar

I think the most important thing you can do is listen. Nothing you can say is going to convince him that things are better than they are, but somehow, venting makes it a lot better.

Bellatrix's avatar

Not something I am terribly good at but maintain the contact. You don’t have to have fancy words, you just have to be there. He may not always respond, but knowing you are there, even in the distance has to help. I think I remember the friend you are talking about from an earlier conversation.

Often, when we go through traumatic events people are there initially but then life takes over and we can end up alone. You be one of those people who doesn’t drop off. Do as @fremen_warrior suggests and set up a ‘skype’ date and have a talk with each other each week at the same time.

I think normalcy is the key. While there may be times when he needs you to mentally hug him, I suspect he also just wants people to treat him in the same way as they did before he went through all these problems. Share positive things you are doing in your life, books you have read, films you have seen and the like. You know this person, what has been his passion – talk about that. And as @Mariah said, when he needs it just be quiet and listen.
Talk about the things he has always loved and just be there.

mazingerz88's avatar

I’m not sure whether I have comforted my friend at all with any of the words I have spoken so far after he had a stroke recently. He is still ambulatory but has trouble speaking and his right arm has limited movement.

Last time I called, I’m pretty sure I told him that “I worry about him when he does not pick up the phone.” I would like to think it helps him to know that I care.

Mariah's avatar

I meant to add, you’re a good friend for being so caring, @Hawaii_Jake.

wundayatta's avatar

Talk to them about real stuff, not their illness and not words of comfort. Treat them like a real, interesting person. It is my belief that most sick people get real tired of being treated like sick people. It puts distance between you. Just be a friend. That’s all they need. That’s all any of us need, I think.

augustlan's avatar

Every now and again, in between the bigger communications, I send “Thinking of you today” messages, just to let them know they’re on my mind… that I still care.

bluiii's avatar

The only suggestion I have is to just lock eyes with them and listen. Give them your undivided attention and listen. You may ask questions like, “How are you feeling right now”, “Do you want to talk about it?”, “How is your family/dad/mom/son doing?” Don’t be judgemental, keep your face perfectly composed and just listen. DO NOT give lame statements like, “We’re praying for you”, and “Our thoughts and prayers are with you”. Because, they may not be a religious person. And don’t tell them that they should call you if you need anything—because you know you don’t mean it and they won’t call.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’m here for you. What can I do to ease your pain just a little?

Storytelling is a good distraction from pain.

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