I am forever sticking my foot in my mouth. Recently when visiting an old buddy in a hospice, I said, “How are you?” He replied, “Well, not so good. I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t dying.” Now, how does one come back from that kind of faux pas? What to say to a terminally ill friend?
–Walter, Indianapolis, ID
In the future say, “How are you feeling?” Listen while they tell you how. Then ask if there is anything that you could get for them or do for them? Someone who is terminal ill wants to be listened to and acknowledged.
Try taking out your cellphone so he can see it and ask, “Is there anyone you would like me to contact that you would like to talk to?”
Like many of us, we all have some kind of unfinished business we’ve been meaning to act on before dying. He may wish to talk to someone his family doesn’t approve of or know about and he can’t bring himself to ask any of them to make the call.
Finding a way to be in the slightest bit helpful, is always appreciated.
If you know he likes dogs or cats, ask if you can bring in your pet for him to stare at or pat. Be sure to have a container for the pet.
He may not be hungry, but a slug of really good handcrafted bourbon is a treat for a whiskey man. Whereas a sip of champagne creates a bubbly smile on someone else. Even people who don’t have a sweet tooth have a favorite treat — chocolate, lemon, or butter pecan ice cream.
Find out something that tickles his senses and remembers the past and bring it to him next time you visit.
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Accepting A Compliment