5. You don’t look sick
I’ve never understood why this seems to be a common reaction. Do you think your friend waited to tell you they had cancer till two months into chemo? Or on their deathbed? Chances are, they recently found out. Maybe this is meant to be a compliment, in that “you sure don’t look like your body is attacking itself.” Either way, not helpful. Instead, ask how they are feeling today, and be open to a conversation about what they are experiencing.
Instead: Be open to discussing what they are going through.
4. Everything will be ok, and other platitudes
I know you mean well, and it’s difficult to know what exactly to say to a loved one who has just received devastating news, but reciting trite phrases, or writing off their pain as something that will only make them stronger is actually hurtful. Yeah, maybe there is a bigger plan, and they will be a better person after the battle is over, but right now it sucks. And you need to be ok sitting with your friend in this space, where the struggle is real, and the fear is palpable. Get to know what exactly they are afraid of, and offer genuine encouragement, tailored to this person, in this place, at this time.
Instead: Listen to the struggle, offer real, genuine, individualized hope, not recited lines
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