Years ago, when I was pretty sick with a bad flare-up of scleroderma and unable to leave the house, a friend of mine would call once in a while to say, “I’m going to the supermarket. Can I pick anything up for you?” That simple offer filled me with love. Most times I’d say, “No thanks, Julie, I’m all set,” but I’d hang up with a lighter heart and a smile on my face.

Lisa Copen has lived with rheumatoid arthritis for 16 yrs. She’s a mom and wife, an author, speaker and founder of Invisible Illness Week, September 14-20, 2009.

Lisa used Twitter in a very clever way. She asked her followers a question: What would be a good thing to say to a sick person? She says, “Oftentimes people are told what not to say. This is a great help in giving them an idea of what to say!” Here’s a sample of suggestions from the Twitter community for what to say to a sick person:

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 its 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 today.

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

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

10. You are amazing.

Like most loving gestures, it really is the thought that counts and is healing. Not all of the suggestions sent to Lisa would suit me and maybe not you either, but it doesn’t matter.

Helping healthy people be more comfortable approaching a sick friend or a friend who cares for a sick child, spouse or parent is a wonderful concept. It can be so awkward when we don’t know what to say. Will I intrude on her privacy? Maybe I’ll offend her by presuming she needs help. This hesitation can take days and weeks and before you know it our friend or their loved one is either better or dying. Either way, we’ve lost an opportunity.

Please share your ideas of what to say to a sick friend and leave a comment!

via 20 Things to Say to an Ill Person

photo courtesy of Beauty of Africa via Flickr