“You Look Great”, Other Lies & a Happy Father’s Day!

2011 June 19

Here’s a blog post on an article by a dad, on Father’s day

Your best friend, or a close relative, or a colleague has been diagnosed to have a serious disease. You visit. What do you say? Or do?

Unfortunately, most of the things that we usually say or do are not very helpful. And sometimes we end up saying rather horrible things.

So, here’s a guide for you, by Bruce Feiler, published in the New York Times:

I wanna hold your handMY friend sat down and ordered a stiff drink. I didn’t think of her as the stiff-drink kind. An hour later, after our spouses drifted off into conversation, she leaned over the table. “I need your help,” she said. “My sister has a brain tumor. I don’t know what to do.”

Three years ago this month, I learned that I had a seven-inch osteosarcoma in my left femur. Put more directly: I had bone cancer. That diagnosis led me down a dark year that included nine months of chemotherapy and a 15-hour surgery to reconstruct my left leg.

[..] But as my friend’s query suggested, some gestures were more helpful than others, and a few were downright annoying. So at the risk of offending some well-meaning people, here are:

Six Things You Should Never Say to a Friend (or Relative or Colleague) Who’s Sick:

  1. What Can I Do To Help?
  2. My Thoughts And Prayers Are With You.
  3. Did You Try That Mango Colonic I Recommended?
  4. Everything Will Be O.K.
  5. How Are We Today?
  6. You Look Great.

And Four Things You Can Always Say:

  1. Don’t Write Me Back.
  2. I Should Be Going Now.
  3. Would You Like Some Gossip?
  4. I Love You.

Read the full article, with descriptions for all 10, at the New York Times, from one that knows…

About Bruce Feiler: “… a young father when he was diagnosed with cancer. Worried about his daughters, he asked six men to form a “Council of Dads” to help guide them through their lives. This site is designed to help you do the same, whether you’re sick or well, male or female. Reach out to your friends. You’ll be glad you did!”find out more at the Council of Dads website. His memoir, “The Council of Dads: A Story of Family, Friendship and Learning How to Live” has just been published in paperback.

Watch his TED talk from January 2011:


One Response
  1. June 20, 2011

    Excellent advice there, from someone who has gone through the pain. However, not everyone is the same, and all rules may never apply to everyone! So when we go by these advices, and find that someone is still troubled or upset, we should be able to take a step back and think from that person’s point of view.

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