Do You Search for the Right Words to Say when Someone has a Sick Family Member?

If so, you are not alone.

It doesn’t matter if it is a friend who’s husband was just diagnosed with cancer or a friend who just found out their daughter has the Corona Virus, we want to feel supportive, yet we don’t want to invade their privacy.

You want to reach out, yet you may be afraid to do so.

So should you say anything? And if you do, what should you say?

How can you best support them?

Of course those are issues I tackle in my book “How Can I Help?”

But I was recently asked to join other thought leaders from the medical community as well as social workers, therapists and authors to contribute to a special article in to talk about this topic.

Here is an excerpt from that article:

What to Say to Someone Who Has a Sick Family Member?

“When someone you know has a sick loved one, searching for the right words to say can be very difficult. While showing sympathy is vital during this time, many of us struggle to come up with comforting words to say.

Here are some experts’ insights to help us figure out what to say to someone who has a sick family member.

Alexandra Friedmann Finkel, LCSW

When speaking with someone who has a sick family member, people may feel pressure to say the “right” thing. This often leads to people feeling overwhelmed and intimidated, and in some cases, causes them to avoid saying something altogether.

This leaves the person with the sick family member not only with the burden of caring for that family member but also with more and more feelings of isolation and abandonment. The most important thing to remember is that what to say depends on who the individual is that needs support.

Think about who the audience is. Is it a co-worker? A best friend? A partner? Keep the individual in mind. No matter who it may be, these are some tips to help show you care:

Simply ask how he/she is doing

You can say, “I know that your [family member] is sick. How are you doing with everything?”.

Let the response guide your conversation. Creating space to allow someone to actually speak about the challenges they are experiencing by having a sick family member is much more powerful than anything generic. Letting him/her know that it’s okay to feel that way and that you here to listen can help tremendously.”

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Sherrie Dunlevy is an author, speaker and Inspirationista. For more information, to order her best selling book “How Can I Help?” or to hire Sherrie to speak at your conference, workshop or special event go to or contact her at

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