Spoke with a friend today who has chronic back problems. He’s the nicest, sincerest and most energetic guy I know and my heart goes out to him in the hope that he can find a cure to his problems. Our conversation on the phone naturally drifted to his back issues and while I didn’t want to dwell on the topic long, because I’m sure he is tired of talking about the topic, I couldn’t help but ask about his condition and how a search for the cure was coming along. Of course, most of the news was disheartening and difficult for him to say. Is it better to try and change the subject? Is it better to explore the problem in detail? I just have no idea how to talk to someone about something that is wrong, but beyond their control.
If a friend is having trouble with a relationship or a bad habit, it’s possible to give advice and direction. Discussing the topic with them can lead to revelations and help them on their way. But when it comes to a disease, disability or health issue, what can you say? I can’t say, I know you’ll feel better soon. I don’t think they want to feel like you are afraid to talk to them about the issue, but an outpouring of sympathy is not always favourably looked upon either. For those who have been through a situation is helping someone along with the incurable what advice do you have?
My heart really does go out to him. Saying “I hope you get better soon” sounds so shallow and hopeless. I don’t want just something better to say to him, but a better way to react and support.