This is a conversation that began on Marilyn Gardner's Guest blog on Heartsisters.org and which I'd like to continue here for a bit. It is a really important piece for anyone who knows anyone in the hospital, sick, recovering, or dying....
I want you to read Marilyn Gardner's piece (Stupid Phrases for People in Crisis) on Carolyn Thomas's Heartsisters.org but in a nutshell she lays it out very clearly and succinctly. What does not help, in my opinion, are people who attempt to explain the events away in some sort of pseudo-pious language and/or tone or who adopt a forced smiley cheeriness as if their fake smiles will somehow induce a recovery. People in crisis don't want to hear fluff nor do they want to hear platitudes.
Another thing that people need to realize is that when someone is really sick and recovering hopefully or not, they do need hope and presence of people who are important to them, but that all of that takes tremendous energy. When I was recovering from my major heart drama, at home, I usually had to lie down to even talk on the phone. One of the things that helped when I got home was that my husband, sister, and a couple of close friends took turns answering the door and fielding phone calls. For me, just to be at that point took a great deal of energy.
This is the flu season and when people are sick, some may have a tendency to over-do and get up too quickly. I have actually known two people who died because they did that. One was a young mother and one was a middle aged mother. None had underlying health issues. So, if you are visiting someone who is sick or is the one who is sick, do yourself and your friend/loved one a favor. Make the visit short and sweet.
In lieu of the ubiquitous, "let me know how I can help"...ask if you can pick up something from the drug store, the grocery store, cook a meal" ... use your knowledge of that person's life to make a helpful offer. Also, if you are the one who is sick, get yourself a gatekeeper if you can't tell your friend that you need to sleep now or that now is not a good time to come over.
Go to Carolyn's blog and read that piece by Marilyn Gardner...it is important!