What to say to a friend who is sick: Show Empathy

A friend is sick….what to say in a card, when you call, in person? How do you show empathy?



“If you need anything, call me. And if you don’t call me, I promise I’ll call you. And I’ll keep calling,” – bestguess, N.Y.

“Don’t feel like talking? Me either. Let’s sit here and not talk together.” – Jessica, South Orange, N.J.


“I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. I promise to hold your hand and never tell you that everything happens for a reason.” – Bridget, Virginia

“I’m not your doctor, so I’m not going to give you medical advice. I’m not your support group, so I won’t pretend I know what you’re going though. I am your friend, and I’ll always be there to shut up and listen.” – Clara M., Arlington, Virginia

“All people have bumps in the road of life. You have a mountain, but I’m here for you with my climbing gear.” – Laurie Lee, Lake Oswego, Ore.

“I promise not to encourage you when you say you’re too tired. I’ll just give you a ride home,” – AB, Vancouver, Canada

“Let’s deal with this constructively: Let me know when we can meet up and smash things.” – Emily, Jersey City

“I’m uncomfortable asking about it, but I will never pretend your incurable, chronic illness magically went away.” – Katherine, Macfarlane

“I wish I knew the right thing to say. Joanne S., N.J.

These suggestions come from an Empathy Card Contest published in the NY Times

There is no ‘right thing’ to say. Every cancer is different. Every survivor has different needs, different involvement of friends. Some don’t want to talk about it at all. Others need to talk about it. The important thing is to empower your friend by making the time you spend together, and the things you do for them, what they want and need, not what you think they want or need.


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By | 2016-10-14T15:18:13+00:00 November 23rd, 2015|Making Life Meaningful, Talk for Hope|1 Comment

About the Author:

Eva Grayzel, a nationally recognized Master Storyteller and performance artist, was diagnosed at age 33 with stage IV oral cancer and given a 15% chance of survival. After regaining her deep vibrant voice, Eva applied her stage skills to communicate the depth of her experience in a unique and powerful way. For over a decade, Eva has captivated dental professionals worldwide using her story as a catalyst for change. She performed ‘Tongue-Tied’ Off-Broadway in New York City to a sold-out audience. A champion for early detection, Eva founded the Six-Step Screening™ oral cancer awareness campaign, for which she was recognized by the American Academy of Oral Medicine. She is the author of ‘Mr. C Plays Hide & Seek’ and ‘Mr. C the Globetrotter.’ In 2017, she created ‘My Story Legacy,’ a creative format to document family stories, life values and wisdom for future generations.

One Comment

  1. Gerald Fernandez December 2, 2015 at 5:23 pm - Reply

    I am so glad I get your updates; this is a keeper!
    – Rose Allhouse

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