469: Sick Day

What do you prefer friends do when you’re hurt or sick?


Full episode script

Injuries and illnesses are tough, on face, only for the fact that they can be draining. There’s something more, though, when our friends jump in. Especially when serious illnesses enter the picture, it’s very common for there to be an initial surge of goodwill and assistance, but it may or may not be actually helpful.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, the Swiss psychiatrist who was a pioneer in the field of death and dying, believed that it’s important to respect the desires of the person who is hurt or sick. If you repeatedly volunteer to help and your friend repeatedly says no, then the offers can become more about your need to get “credit” than hers to get help.

Letty Cottin Pegrin wrote a book called How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick, which Conelia Dean reviewed in the New York Times in 2013. As Ms. Dean wrote:
But perhaps the best advice Ms. Pogrebin offers is the simplest: Listen. Take your cues from the sick person.

That’s what Caitlin — and several other good friends — did for me when I was sick. I turned to those people often, and they never let me down, I think because they were paying such close attention to how I was and what I needed.

Of course, there’s a challenge in all of this. A big challenge. That when you are hurt or sick, communicating your wants and needs can be exceptionally difficult. That’s one of the reasons that it can be exceptionally important to think about how you may want support even before you may need help.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.