Band aid statements are the worst. They’re the kind of thing you say when you aren’t sure what to say to someone who’s sick or hurting in efforts to comfort them or to make conversation. The kicker, though – they aren’t actually comforting and they aren’t received as welcomed conversation. Take a look at this list of band aid statements and suggestions of what to say instead!
“You don’t look sick!” (Also see, “Well, you look great!”)
“Um ok – tell me what [sick] looks like and maybe I’ll get it right next time.” – Mom
This might just be my favorite *insert sarcasm and violent eye roll here*. This is not a compliment and can be frustrating when said to someone whose illness is relatively invisible to the outside world. This makes the person feel as if they need to justify themselves or remind you of their illness.
“How are you?”
“If you ask chronically sick person that question you better want to know and care – otherwise just say hello.” – Mom
This one is tricky because it’s commonplace to use this as a greeting. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use this as a greeting with someone who is ill unless you genuinely mean it. Sometimes this question should just be left out of your conversation completely. People don’t actually enjoy discussing their illness all the time (gasp!). Use your discernment with this one.
“Have you tried . . . ?” (fill in the blank)
Y’all. This is not the time to try and pawn off whatever product you’re peddling even if your motive is completely pure. This is also not the time to suggest that he or she try to lose weight. This is the time to be a friend, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on. If they want your advice, they’ll ask. Until then, it’s probably best to keep it to yourself.
“He/She/You will be okay.”
This statement is only appropriate when the man in your life has a cold and tells you he’s dying (ladies, am I right?).
Several months ago, I actually had someone say this to me in reference to my mom, who has Pulmonary Fibrosis. This statement was frustrating primarily because it may not be true. It’s also frustrating because the statement was made in reference to the fact that my mom is young. Being young does not equate with being okay or the potential to be okay.
“Everything happens for a reason.”
“People mean well when they say this, but they don’t understand how much it can affect a recently diagnosed person. Depression is very common when you first receive a diagnosis (or even get chronically sick without a diagnosis) and that just makes you feel worse.” – Hollie S.
While I firmly believe God has a purpose and plan, when having a conversation with someone who is ill you need to check this kind of church lingo at the door. It can actually do more harm than good.
Please hear me out – I am not saying that spiritual encouragement has no place. It has every place and is so important. But let’s be careful to make sure that we’re using our words to speak light into the darkness instead of using them to haphazardly fill a void.
What to Say Instead
“I honestly don’t know what to say. That really sucks, and I’m sorry.” These are actually my favorite – no sarcasm or eye rolls here.
Be a friend. Share your life with them. Mom says, “We want regular conversations that keep us in the loop. Tell us what’s going on, tell us your troubles just as you had before – and visit them often. Shut-ins are lonely.”
Ask how you can be praying for them. Better yet, pray with them. Y’all, prayer is so powerful and so encouraging. Mom says, “praying is NOT the least thing someone can do – it’s the most important.”