When it comes to caring for a sick friend, sometimes our best intentions can go awry. For example, how many times have you tried to cheer someone up by minimizing their pain, illness or accident with a more devastating experience of your own? “I am so sorry that you broke your leg. I broke my leg skiing once and had to crawl to the first aid station!” Or perhaps your offer to do something on their behalf was met with, “I’m not an invalid, I can take care of myself!” The latter instance has happened to me. That is, by offering to help my sick friend without first asking if he wanted my help, I was actually making him feel more incompetent than he already felt from his illness.
If you are transitioning into becoming a caregiver or simply visiting a sick friend, you might want to brush up on caregiving etiquette by reading, “For Sick Friend: First Do No Harm,” WSJ April 13-14, 2013, C3. The article gives “10 Commandments for Conversing With A Sick Friend” that might help you avoid a very common illness known as ”foot in mouth syndrome.”