What to Say When Someone is Unwell

A guide on what to say, when someone is unwell and you really don’t know what to say.
What to Say When Someone is Unwell

Finding the perfect words when someone falls ill or is diagnosed with a terminal illness can feel challenging and awkward. “Get well soon” doesn’t always cut it, and “I’m sorry to hear” sounds a little, well, depressing. And while our words unfortunately can’t change the situation (although we truly wish they could), they can certainly make an impact on the other person’s mindset.

So if you’re worried about saying the wrong thing during a difficult time? Know you aren’t alone. Here’s our advice when it comes to tackling “feel better soon” messages and conversations in a non-cheesy, non-corny, and super kind way.

Our favourite ways to send someone well wishes:

  1. Send a card: A simple and thoughtful way to show someone you are thinking of them. Maybe even pair it with a colourful bunch of flowers or their favourite sweet treat.
  2. Send a gift box from their favourite store or a local supplier: There are heaps of companies who specialise in creating gift packs for every occasion, so why not send your loved one a box filled with cute items bound to comfort them or make them smile? We’ve found wonderful food-based gift boxes, cosy gift boxes (featuring herbal teas and fluffy socks), and even boxes for sick pets (dogs, cats, and even rabbits).
  3. Make them a meal: Bake a cake or some cookies, make them a nourishing heathful bowl of something or shout them a delicious dinner one night. Lasagne is always a winner, in our opinion.
  4. Organise a food roster amongst friends and family: One thing families caring for an unwell loved one need is good, hearty food. Because the last thing you feel like doing whilst caring is cooking dinner. There are heaps of digital calendars we’ve used for creating meal rosters, but our favourite is Take Them A Meal. Simply populate the roster’s template, inputting all relevant dates and special dietary requirements, and then send it on to anyone who might be interested in organising a meal for the person and their family. There’s nothing kinder than a community gathering around to care for someone who is unwell.
  5. Book them an at-home pamper session: If they’re a lover of self-care and pampering, then organising their favourite clinicians to visit them at home or in hospital for a pamper pick-me-up is a great way to boost morale. Contact their hairdresser or manicurist (whoever they frequently visit) and book in a time for a personal visit. Looking your best helps you feel your best. It’s science.

What to write in a ‘get well’ card:

So you’ve organised a ‘get well’ gift, but you know you have to write a card to pair with it – because leaving a hot lasagne on their front doorstep without letting them know who it’s from is… a bit weird.

It’s important to note that most people who are unwell simply want their loved ones to ‘act normally’ after their diagnosis. Remember to just be the same you; there’s no need to be more emotional or serious after their diagnosis if you’re usually a prankster who loves nothing more than belly laughs and banter. Chances are, your loved one just wants to feel as normal as possible, so stay true to you and act as you normally would when hanging out with them.

Examples of what to say to someone experiencing cancer, chemo, or a terminal illness:

  • Just want you to know that I’m thinking about you. Fingers crossed today is a good one.
  • I don’t know what to say right now, but I want you to know that I am 100% here for you, and will be by your side every step of the way.
  • I know I’m not religious, but I’m praying for a miracle cure. Not sure if He’ll listen but hey, may as well ask!
  • Sending through your Monday morning reminder that you’re important to me and I’d be lost without you. Adore you to the moon and back.
  • Loved hanging out this afternoon. Can we do it again next week?
  • Do you have heaps of appointments again this week? I’m around, and have heard I’m not bad for a non-Uber driver. I can take you wherever you need to go (as long as we can stop for snacks on the way).
  • I’m here if you need anything, and my phone is always on if you need to talk or rant or cry.
  • I have an UberEats discount code I want to use. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
  • I am so sorry you are going through this.

Examples of what to say when someone is recovering from a surgery or hospital stay:

  • I hope your pain disappears ASAP.
  • So glad you’re in the right hands – you have an incredible team of medics working hard to get you feeling better again soon.
  • Wishing you lots of love and strength while you recover.
  • Can’t wait to (insert your favourite activity to do together) with you again soon.

Examples of what to say to a coworker who is unwell:

  • Sending you well wishes. Hope you recover soon.
  • Work isn’t the same without you! Get better soon.
  • Can’t wait to see you back in the office soon.
  • Don’t worry about those reports. We’ve got them covered.
  • Hope you feel a little better every day.

Wrap up

The words you say when someone is unwell can have a much greater impact on their happiness and morale than you might even realise. Sometimes it’s the smallest things – a thoughtful note in the letter box, a quick text message or a call on your way home from work – that make a huge difference. Next time you’re wanting to wish someone well after a health scare, feel free to make your way back to this guide. It’s hard to know what to say when you don’t know what to say – so our examples should have you covered, no matter the circumstances.

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