When you’re tasked with coming up with something to say when someone is sick, you really only need three things: a positive attitude, a smile, and a warm personality.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What to Say to Someone Before They Have Surgery
- What to Say to Someone After They Have Surgery
- Words of Support and ‘Get Well’ Wishes During a Long Surgery Recovery
- What to Text Someone Before a Surgery
- What to Write in a Card to Someone Who’s About to Have Surgery
- Funny Messages to Share With Someone Who’s About to Have Surgery
- ‘Good Luck’ Messages to Share With Someone Who’s About to Have Surgery
After all, a person going into surgery doesn’t want to hear about the time your aunt had a similar operation “and was never the same.” Someone with a sick family member only wants to hear positive messages for cancer patients.
Here are some ideas of what to say to someone who is anticipating surgery. We’ll also help you pen the perfect “get well” message if you can’t be with your friend or loved one in person.
Tip: Unfortunately, surgery and medical intervention can't always save a life. If you've recently lost someone, our post-loss checklist can help you work through the tasks and challenges you might face.
What to Say to Someone Before They Have Surgery
Your job is to remain optimistic, warm, and comforting when someone is in the hospital awaiting surgery.
There is usually a lot of downtime in the hospital. Keep the conversation light. Make jokes about the lousy hospital food or watch funny videos online. You can even bring a cozy blanket like this one to help keep them comfortable. And if you have to talk about the surgery, consider talking about it in one of the following ways.
1. “I’ll see you in a bit! Love you!”
Do your best to be light-hearted and positive when you’re present as your friend or family member is wheeled off for surgery. Avoid tearful goodbyes.
2. “You’re in great hands.”
Remind your friend or family member that in all likelihood, this surgical team has performed this particular surgery many times. He or she is not the first patient in the world to have that surgery!
3. “You’re going to be okay.”
Share quiet, reassuring thoughts with the patient. Most surgeons are careful to perform surgery only on patients who can handle it.
4. “I’ll be there when you wake up in the recovery room.”
No one wants to be surrounded by strangers when he or she doesn’t feel well. Reassure the patient that you will be there when he or she wakes up.
5. Tell a joke.
Have a few goofy jokes in your back pocket just in case your patient’s mood takes a nosedive. Laughter is the best medicine, as long as it is balanced with moments of sincerity.
Perhaps you won’t be with your friend or family member at the hospital. Here’s what you can say right before the patient is wheeled off to surgery.
6. “Let’s plan a girls’ night after you recover from your surgery!”
The obvious assumption is that things will go well when you say you are eager to make plans with someone after surgery.
7. “Things will be better after your surgery.”
At times, surgery is presented to the patient as just one choice for treatment. Say positive things about the choice. After all, what good will it do to second-guess a decision that the patient has already made?
8. “I know you are scared, but you will be fine.”
Fear is a valid, normal emotion. Don’t belittle how your friend or family member is feeling by telling him or her to “be brave.”
9. “I’ll be praying for you and your medical team.”
Is your friend or family member a person of faith? If so, reassure the patient that you will be sending prayers for all involved. Even better — pray with your loved one.
10. “Life will be better after you have fully recovered from your surgery.”
Your friend or family member may be looking forward to the surgery because a healthy life will follow recovery.
11. “Try not to worry.”
After all, didn’t your mom tell you that worrying never does any good?
12. “You won’t remember a thing.”
Thank goodness for anesthesiologists! Chances are that your loved one really won’t remember much about their experience in the hospital.
13. “I’ll see you when you wake up!”
Equating going under anesthesia and going to sleep may put your friend at ease.
14. “I’ll be in the waiting room.”
Reassure your loved one that you will be nearby.
15. “You have the best surgeon!”
Reassure your friend or family member that they are working with the best medical professionals in the region – even if you can’t prove that fact.
16. “This will all be a bad memory some day.”
Reassure your loved one that they have many years of life ahead.
17. “I love you to the moon and back!”
It’s time to break out those tender sayings – perhaps ones you used in childhood.
What to Say to Someone After They Have Surgery
Recovery after surgery can be hard. Your friend or family member may feel nauseous from the medication and pain from the incisions. He or she may even start to regret the decision to have the procedure.
Reassure your loved one that he or she made the right decision. After all, you can’t go back in time, so there is no use second-guessing the decision. Saying the right words after surgery may be even more critical than what you say before the procedure.
18. “I know you feel lousy now, but this is part of the recovery process.”
Reassure your friend that the way he is feeling is not the new normal. The medical staff probably set realistic expectations for the recovery process. Remind your friend of those expectations.
19. “I’m so glad that your surgery went well!”
Again, focus on the positive. Remind other friends and family members to focus on the excellent end result, too.
20. “Take time to recover properly.”
Your friend or loved one may feel like recovery is taking forever, but remind him or her that recovery takes time and that it shouldn’t be rushed. Encourage your loved one to follow the medical staff’s advice.
21. “I’m here to take care of you.”
Your friend or family member will probably be weak after surgery and may require some TLC. Reassure the patient that you will be there to help during the recovery process. Perhaps your family member will need assistance getting in and out of bed or maybe your friend will need rides to physical therapy. Sometimes a successful recovery requires a team effort.
22. “Your job right now is to focus on your recovery.”
Is the person close to you in a rush to get back to work? Explain that work will always be there and your friend or loved one needs to follow best practices to recover quickly.
23. “You’ll feel better in no time.”
Granted, you may not know how long recovery will take. However, a little bit of positive reassurance never hurt anyone.
24. “I’ll be your nurse now.”
Your loved one may need you now more than ever as they recover from their surgery. Reassure them that you will serve their meals, help them to the bathroom, and do all the necessary tasks when you return home.
25. “It’s important to have a positive attitude!”
Does your loved one feel lousy? You might let them complain – for a while. Then remind them of the power of staying positive.
26. “Remember that it will take some time before you feel normal.”
Offer this gentle reminder to a frustrated patient.
27. “Your surgery went great!”
It’s tough to go through surgery, and your friend may still feel lousy. Remind your friend or family member that the goal for the surgery was achieved.
Words of Support and “Get Well” Wishes During a Long Surgery Recovery
You may not see your friend or loved one before or after surgery. You may need to write “get well” messages to him or her on a greeting card like this or a social media page. These messages can also make a care package or other surgery gifts extra special. Here are some things you could write to show your support.
28. “I am so happy that your surgery went well! Please take care of yourself. We miss you at work, but we want you to take the necessary time to recover before you return.”
29. “I know that this has been a difficult time for you. I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking about you and praying for you. Take care of yourself during the recovery process. I can’t wait until I see you on the sidelines at the next soccer game.”
30. “Classes have not been the same without you being there. After all, I have no one to complain to about our ‘favorite’ professor. Take care of yourself! I’m looking forward to seeing you soon.”
31. “I’m sending healing vibes your way. I hope you recover quickly so that I can see you soon.”
32. “I’m sorry to hear about your surgery but I’m glad to know it went well. I’ve been praying for a speedy recovery.”
33. “I know that recovery for this type of surgery is rough. However, what’s the alternative? You don’t want to return to how you were feeling before you had the surgery, do you?”
There was a reason why your loved one chose to go through the surgery. Remind them of their decision.
34. “I heard you are working hard and doing great! I can’t wait to see you!”
Recovery from surgery sometimes takes a lot of work. Offer lots of encouragement.
35. “You look amazing!”
We’ll let you decide whether telling a white lie is okay or not.
36. “I’ll be over on Tuesday to clean your bathrooms and do your laundry.”
Lend a helping hand to your friend during recovery. They may appreciate these actions more than any words you can utter.
37. “I can’t believe how great you are doing! You’ll be back to work in no time!”
Perhaps reminding your friend of work may not be the best strategy to promote a speedy recovery.
What to Text Someone Before a Surgery
Your friend may have access to their phone before their surgery. Give them a bit of encouragement before “going under the knife.”
38. “You got this!”
Give messages of strength and reassurance.
39. “You’re going to do great! I’ll see you soon!”
Perhaps the goal of the text is to let your friend know that you are thinking of them.
Do you and your friend share the same beliefs? If you know that your prayers will reassure your friend, tell them that you are praying (and follow through with your promise).
41. “Thinking of you today!”
Even a simple message like this tells someone that you remembered that their surgery was scheduled for that day.
42. “Dr. Smith is the best surgeon around! You’ll do great!”
Reassure your friend about the skill of the surgeon they chose.
43. “Let me know when you are ready for a visit! I’ll bring you one of my famous apple pies!”
Recovery can sometimes be long and boring. Short visits may be suitable for your friend’s mental health.
44. “I ran across this verse from Isaiah today and thought of you. ‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’”
Is your friend a fellow believer? Then use passages such as these to reassure them.
45. “You’re doing the right thing!”
Sometimes surgery is optional, and some people have last-minute regrets. Reassure your friend that they made the right choice.
46. “My husband had the same surgery, and he felt great afterwards!”
While someone else’s success does not guarantee the same results, it might be reassuring to hear.
47. “The whole team is pulling for you!”
Instead of sending a flurry of texts to someone getting ready for surgery, consider being the spokesperson for a group.
48. “You’re the strongest person I know! You’ll do great!”
Some people have an extraordinary inner strength that helps them get through tough times.
49. “I know your surgery is this morning, but I wasn’t sure what time it was scheduled! I wanted to wish you luck! And if you get this message after the surgery – I hope it went well.”
Some people are not glued to their phones – especially if they aren’t feeling their best. So you might send a pre-op and post-op message to cover your bases.
What to Write in a Card to Someone Who’s About to Have Surgery
Are you sending flowers, balloons, or another gift to someone about to have surgery? Here’s what to write on the card. Of course, these messages would also be appropriate for a “thinking of you” card.
50. “Wishing you a speedy recovery!”
This message is short and sweet.
51. “Mom told me that you will be having surgery soon. I hope all goes well!”
You might need to explain how you heard about the upcoming surgery.
52. “I’m sorry to hear that you need surgery. Take it easy afterward and get plenty of rest!”
There’s no need to go into the specifics on what type of surgery is needed.
53. “You’ve been on my mind! Best wishes for a speedy recovery.”
Reassure your friend that you are thinking of them.
54. “The whole team is cheering you on!”
Are you sending a card on behalf of a group? Here’s an example of what to write.
55. “Sending you hugs as you prepare for surgery.”
If you text this message, you might consider sending “virtual hugs.”
56. “Sending healing vibes your way.”
Perhaps this message suits your personality.
57. “Feel better, friend!”
Remind the patient that surgery will make them feel stronger.
58. “Hope you have an easy recovery!”
You might focus your message on the recovery process instead of the operation.
59. “I was sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Wishing you well as you face surgery.”
Again, there’s no reason to name the diagnosis.
60. “Sorry you have been feeling lousy. I hope you’ll feel better soon.”
Sometimes straightforward messages like these work the best.
61. “I’ll bring you a meal when you get home!”
The recent pandemic made visiting hospitals difficult. Consider waiting until your friend is home before seeing them in person.
62. “You are in my thoughts and prayers.”
This phrase is sometimes overused. However, it may best describe the situation.
63. “I’m praying for you, your medical team, and your family.”
If you are a praying person, consider lifting the doctors, nurses, and hospital staff up in your prayers. They have a tough job.
64. “You mean so much to me!”
Tell someone what they mean to you before they go into surgery.
65. “You are a bright and shining light in the world! I love you!”
Here’s another way to send love to someone facing surgery.
Funny Messages to Share With Someone Who’s About to Have Surgery
Some people don’t have a great sense of humor and may not appreciate funny messages when facing a health crisis. If that’s the case, send a sweet note of encouragement.
However, some of your friends might worry if you were too nice to them before surgery. So here are some somewhat funny messages to share with those types of friends.
66. “We can’t wait to see how high you’ll be able to jump with your new bionic knee.”
Of course, someone old enough to remember The Six Million Dollar Man or The Bionic Woman would especially appreciate this message.
67. “I hope you get the good drugs!”
Again, this would not be an appropriate message for everyone.
68. “It’s ridiculous how far some people go to get a few days off work.”
Sending well wishes to a coworker? Here’s a somewhat funny example of what to write on the card.
69. “Enjoy the cherry Jello and chicken broth!”
Jello and broth seem to be staples across every hospital in the country.
70. “I hope you have a hot doctor!”
Are you wishing best wishes to a single friend? Here’s a somewhat funny way to do it.
71. “I’m glad it’s you and not me!”
Sometimes it’s funny to say precisely what you are thinking.
72. “I would NOT want to be your nurse.”
Share this message with someone who can be a pain in the rear.
73. “Ask your surgeon if they can improve your sense of humor while you are under the knife.”
You may want to avoid using phrases like “under the knife” if you are trying to reassure someone before a surgery.
74. “Ask if they’ll do surgery on your weird-looking face. Maybe they offer a two-for-one special.”
Is this a mean message? Yeah, it is. Would it make your friend laugh? Then send it.
75. “It’s my birthday, but I’m sending you flowers. This doesn’t seem right.”
You might also comment about your friend being an “attention hog.”
76. “I recently discovered something important about myself. I HATE our job when you aren’t around. Please recover quickly!”
Only send this message if your boss won’t be able to see it.
77. “I see how this works. I broke my finger, and you had to one-up me and break your whole arm.”
Is your friend super-competitive? This might be taking it a bit too far.
‘Good Luck’ Messages to Share With Someone Who’s About to Have Surgery
We hope we’ve given you ideas on what to say to someone who will soon go under the knife. Here are some additional messages to share with someone to offer them good luck.
78. “Praying for strength and peace as you face this day.”
Your friend or family member may be scared as they face surgery.
79. “You are an inspiration to many. You face challenges with such grace and dignity.”
Anyone would love to receive this message.
80. “I don’t know what to say to make you feel better. But I wanted to let you know that I’m thinking of you.”
Are you struggling to find the right words? Admit it!
81. “Your mom said she would text me when the surgery was over! Good luck!”
Let your friend know that you are waiting for good news.
82. “Wishing you the best of luck today. Let us know how it goes.”
You might want to text this message to a friend on the morning of the surgery.
83. “I wish I could be there for you today! Darn Covid!”
Covid made it challenging to support friends in the hospital.
84. “Stay strong!”
Act as a cheerleader for your friend.
85. “Surgery sucks, but not being able to walk would be even worse. Stay focused on the positive as you face surgery.”
Perhaps your friend would react best to such a forthright message.
86. “If I could take your place in the operating room, I would! I love you!”
Many people wish for this power when a loved one is forced to have surgery.
87. “I saw this quote and thought of you: ‘Some days life is all about your dreams, hopes, and visions for the future. But there are some days where life is just about putting one foot in front of the other. And that’s okay.’”
We wish we knew who to attribute this quote to because it is a beautiful, reassuring message to send to someone going through a health crisis.
88. “This quote made me think of you: ‘When life puts you in tough situations, don’t say, ‘Why me?’ Just say, ‘Try me.’”
Is your friend tough? This quote may remind you of them.
89. “Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.’”
Crafting the Right Message
It can be difficult to find the perfect message for someone who’s going into or coming out of surgery — it’s kind of like crafting the perfect sympathy message.
You may also have a tough time thinking of end-of-life planning for yourself. Don’t avoid making these plans. The greatest gift that you can give to your loved ones is leaving clear instructions about your final arrangements.