When someone you know is sick, it’s important to step up for that person in a small way. Though words of encouragement, affirmation, and positivity may not guarantee that this person will heal in record time or even at all, these messages can still have an impact.
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- Immunity Tea for Colds ($18.99)
- Gourmet Get Well Cookie Gift Basket ($14.99)
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What to Say When Someone Is Sick with Cancer
- What to Say When Someone Is Terminally Ill
- What to Say When Someone Is Not Feeling Well or Has a Cold, Flu, or a Temporary Illness
- What to Say When Someone Is Sick in a Card, Text, or DM
- Religious or Spiritual Messages to Share When Someone’s Sick
- Famous Quotes to Share When Someone’s Sick
- What to Say to a Sick Toddler, Child, or Teenager
There's a huge connection between outlook and outcome in just about any trying circumstance. Sickness may not guarantee a person will pass away, however, there are resources out there for dealing with grief as well as how to offer condolences.
If you’re unable to set aside extra time to spend with the person who is sick, sharing a few words with them in person, via text or email, or even on social media can still make them feel seen. Whether the person has been diagnosed with cancer, is terminally ill, or has a temporary illness, we provide suggestions for each below.
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What to Say When Someone Is Sick with Cancer
Getting a diagnosis of cancer — regardless of the type or stage — is something no one should go through alone. It’s understandable that some people are fiercely private, and you may hear of someone’s diagnosis through the grapevine. However, sharing some words of encouragement isn’t a bad idea. As long as you’re coming from a place of care and respect, you can’t go wrong. Here are some ideas for what to say in a few different scenarios.
It’s important to note that you should not compare illnesses or individuals. If you have a previous connection to someone diagnosed with cancer or who was terminally ill, this does not mean that they will cope with it the same way. Avoid making comments about how serious or benign you think a diagnosis is, especially if you don’t have a medical background.
You should also refrain from sharing opinions about a person’s care regimen. In brief, know your place. If you are not a decision-maker for someone who is ill, do not act like one. Use your time with them to focus on the positive and how much you care for them. If you'd prefer to send a card and are looking for card messages, take a look at our guide to what to write in a card for someone with terminal cancer.
If you’re talking in person, here's what to say when someone is sick with cancer:
- “How are you doing? I happened to hear about your health. If you want to talk, I’m here to listen.”
- “I heard about your diagnosis. I hope I’m not overstepping by mentioning it. I just wanted to let you know I’m here to help your family with anything at all.”
- “If you need to talk to someone who’s been through this, I’m here. I never felt like talking about my diagnosis, but when I did, I always felt better.”
- “How are you feeling? If there’s anything I can do for you, let me know. I’m here for you.”
If you’re texting or talking via email, here's what to say when someone is sick with cancer:
- “I wanted to remind you how much of a boss you are. You’re one of the strongest people I’ve ever met. You’re gonna kick this thing’s butt, I know it.”
- “Checking in to say I love you and you’re going to get through this. I’m always here if you need to talk or just want some baked goods!”
- “I’m here to talk when you’re feeling up to it. I know you don’t like being called brave or strong, but you are — that’s the truth. I love you!”
If you’re communicating on social media, here's what to say when someone is sick with cancer:
- “You’re stronger than all of us. I love you, and I’m praying for you!”
- “There’s nothing you can’t do. I’m thinking of you and rooting for you.”
- “I love you — you’re the epitome of strength and grace, even through the toughest times. Keep fighting!”
What to Say When Someone Is Terminally Ill
When someone is terminally ill, the circumstances are more grave. However, the tone and intent of your message shouldn’t change. You should still offer warmth, encouragement, and support, no matter how much time they may have left. It’s your choice on how you want to impact their time here — so make it enjoyable.
Below you will find some ideas for what to say in a few different scenarios. You can also bring or send a gift that will cheer them up and provide comfort. Of course, let these suggestions serve as a guide. You know the person you’re talking to better than we do. And, naturally, you don’t want to say anything to upset them or their other family members. Similarly, here are some examples if you’re struggling to write a sympathy message or don’t know what’s appropriate.
If you’re talking in person, here's what to say when someone is terminally ill:
- “I’m going to keep bugging you — and I better not stop hearing from you either.”
- “I love you, you know that, right? There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you. You let me know. And if you don’t, I’ll make my best guess.”
- “I know this is a hard conversation to have, but I had to ask. Is there any unfinished business I can help with?”
- “Is there anything I can do to make you happier? What’s missing? I want to make sure you have everything you need.”
If you’re texting or talking via email, here's what to say when someone is terminally ill:
- “I love you so much. I can’t begin to explain how much I admire your bravery and your resolve. I’ve been looking up to you my whole life, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
- “You’re one of the best people I’ve ever known. I’m going to keep praying for you, but I know you’re taken care of. I love you.”
- “I love you, I hope you’re behaving yourself — kidding. If there’s anything I can do to help us break a few more rules, let me know.”
If you’re communicating on social media, here's what to say when someone is terminally ill:
- “You’re beautiful, now as much as ever. I can only hope to live up to the amazing example you’ve set for all those around you. I love you!”
- “You’re Superman/Superwoman, and don’t let anyone forget it! You continue to be such an inspiration, even through this. I’ll love you forever and always.”
- “I love you. You’re a superhero and the bravest person in the galaxy — I know, you’re gonna roll your eyes when you see this.”
What to Say When Someone Is Not Feeling Well or Has a Cold, Flu, or a Temporary Illness
It’s a bit easier to know what to say when someone has a temporary illness. This is mostly because you’ve likely gone through a similar situation yourself, so you know what you’d like to hear. Though temporary illnesses, such as the flu or colds, are less serious, they can still knock you around quite severely.
It’s important to remain sensitive to the person, encourage his or her recovery, and make sure they take care of themselves in the meantime. That being said, try not to say anything like he or she is being “dramatic” or “being a baby.” Regardless of the truth, no one likes to hear this, and negativity won’t help anything.
Furthermore, if your friend or loved one is contagious, you may not be able to see him or her in person. This makes your message even more important. You may also consider giving him or her a gift, like a healthy snacks care package, cozy throw blanket, or something similar to a sympathy gift. Here are a few examples for inspiration, if you’re one of those people who never knows what to say.
If you’re talking in person, here's what to say when someone is not feeling well:
- “How are you feeling? If there’s anything you need help with, let me know. You should focus on getting better.”
- “Can I bring you anything or help around the house in any way? I want to make sure you focus on resting.”
- “You better be taking it easy! I know you don’t like it when I tell you what to do, but I love you, and I want you back to your best self.”
- “What can I do to make you feel better? I’ll do anything for you! I want you to be well.”
If you’re texting or talking via email, here's what to say when someone is not feeling well:
- “How’s it going? I’m checking in to see if you need anything and to tell you I love you!”
- “You’ve got this — please give yourself a break and focus on getting better. Work and exercise can wait. Now go watch a movie and make sure to drink your fluids!”
- “I love you! I hope everything is going all right and you’re feeling a little better. If there’s anything I can do, I’m here!”
- “Can I stop by with anything? Medicine? Soup? I want you back on your feet. Love you!”
If you’re communicating on social media, here's what to say when someone is not feeling well:
- “I heard you’re not feeling well. I wanted to send some love and good vibes your way! Let me know if there’s anything I can do — I’m about to send some memes whether you want them or not.
- “Love ya! I heard you’re under the weather. I hope you’re cutting yourself some slack and taking it easy. You deserve to rest!”
What to Say When Someone Is Sick in a Card, Text, or DM
If you can't see your loved one and talk to them in person while sick, a thoughtful card, text, or direct message (DM) can convey everything you need.
Especially with more contagious illnesses, your loved one will understand if you can't spend some time face-to-face. This also applies if your loved one lives far away or you can't take a trip to see them.
Your loved one likely wants some privacy when they're not looking or feeling their best, but they'll appreciate your gesture all the same. Cards, for one, are an often very personal way to send well wishes — art or a fun design and message in your handwriting could easily become a keepsake.
Here are some ideas for what to say in a card to someone who’s sick:
- “Dear friend, I heard you’re under the weather. But remember, there’s no weather you can’t weather whether you think you can handle it or not. You’re just that strong. I love you, feel better soon. [NAME]”
- “Dear [NAME], I can’t believe any illness would dare come near you, doesn’t it know who it’s messing with? Anyway, hurry up and kick this thing’s butt and feel better soon. I miss you so much! Give me a call if you’re feeling up to it. [NAME].”
- “Dear [NAME], I hope by the time this card reaches you you’re already feeling better. Or, maybe the card itself will make you feel better. Either way, feel better. I love you, [NAME].”
Here are some ideas for what to say in a text to someone who’s sick:
- “I heard you’re not feeling well — that’s such a bummer! If you need help with anything around the house or grabbing groceries I’m happy to help. Just let me know!”
- “You’re not feeling well? That’s no fun! I’m telling you right now, though, you better be resting and not expecting too much of yourself. I mean it! I’ll come over there and make sure of it. Love you.”
- “Even though you’re sick I wouldn’t doubt that you’re hanging out in an outfit ready for the club — it’s called a robe! It’s OK to wear one! Kidding, love. I hope you feel better soon so we can hit the town for real!”
Here are some ideas for what to say in a DM to someone who’s sick:
- “Hi, how are you feeling? Better, I hope? If there’s anything I can do, let me know!”
- “I saw you mentioned you weren’t feeling well — I know it’s been a while since we’ve chatted but I’d love to catch up soon once you’re better. Please take care and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help!”
Religious or Spiritual Messages to Share When Someone’s Sick
Many people lean on religion or spirituality to find strength, purpose, and meaning through the good and bad times.
If you know a more religious or spiritual message will resonate with your loved one, during an illness is the perfect time to do so. Even if your loved one isn’t that big on religion or spirituality, these sentiments can provide immense comfort.
When drafting your message, like always, it’s essential to put yourself in the shoes of your loved one — how are they feeling emotionally? What sorts of ideas or themes might be best to share? What might not be best to share?
Here are some religious messages to share when someone’s sick:
- “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” — Isaiah 41:10
- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” — Matthew 11:28
- “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” — Proverbs 17:22
- “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” — 3 John 1:2
- “Better it is to live one day seeing the rise and fall of things than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the rise and fall of things.” — Gautama Buddha
- “A person who takes a walk of 100 feet and a person who walks 2,000 miles have one major thing in common. They both need to take a first step before they take a second step.” — Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
- “We have no understanding of the energy that God planted within our souls. Therefore, God has to test us to bring forth those treasures that are buried deep within ourselves and make us unique.” — Rebbeztin Esther Jungreis
- “Get rid of the hardship and heal, O Lord of the People, you are the Healer, and there is no healing of disease like Yours. Let it be healing that is not betrayed by sickness.” — Prophet Muhammad
- “The Spirit is neither born nor does it die at any time. It does not come into being or cease to exist. It is unborn, eternal, permanent, and primeval. The Spirit is not destroyed when the body is destroyed.” — Bhagavad Gita (2.20)
Here are some spiritual messages to share when someone’s sick:
- “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
- “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
- “Because you are alive, everything is possible.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
- “The more you recognize the immense good within you, the more you magnetize immense good around you.” — Alan Cohen
- “Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” — Carl Jung
- “Taking the time to meditate is as important as taking the time to breathe. One pumps oxygen into the body, the other pumps peace into the mind.” — Marianne Williamson
Famous Quotes to Share When Someone’s Sick
Looking up famous quotes to share when someone’s sick isn’t cheating — so don’t think of it that way! Why reinvent the wheel, so to speak, if someone else has said exactly what you want to exactly how you want to?
Sharing something inspiring with your loved one when they’re at their lowest from someone they look up to can only help. You may even give them the idea to reread one of their favorite books, rewatch one of their favorite movies, and so on to pass the time as they recuperate.
Here are some famous quotes from books and individuals to share when someone’s sick, resting, or in recovery:
- “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” — A. A. Milne
- “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” — Francis of Assisi
- “We are stronger in the places we have been broken.” — Ernest Hemingway
- “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius
- “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu
- “You just can't beat the person who never gives up.” — Babe Ruth
- “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” — Mahatma Gandhi
- “Courage isn’t having the strength to go on — it is going on when you don’t have strength.” — Napoléon Bonaparte
- “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt
- “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ― John Lubbock
- “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.” — C.S. Lewis
- “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger — something better, pushing right back.” — Albert Camus
- “Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you do with what happens to you.” — Aldous Huxley
- “Sometimes all we need is a little pampering to help us feel better.” — Charles M. Schulz
- “The mind is like a fertile garden in which anything that is planted, flowers or weeds, will grow.” — Bruce Lee
What to Say to a Sick Toddler, Child, or Teenager
It’s not always easy to know what to say to a toddler, child, or teenager — regardless of how close you are to them. Illness can make anyone feel not like themselves (likely more cranky and sensitive than normal).
With anyone who’s sick, it’s important to gentle and cognizant of their feelings. Try to cheer the child or teen up, as they might be scared and confused.
To help you brainstorm, perhaps think back to when you didn’t feel well as a child — what sorts of things did you like to hear? Or, what has helped your own children in the past?
Here are some ideas for what to say to a sick toddler:
- “You’re being so brave! You’ve practically grown into a big kid overnight! I’m sure your mom and dad are so proud of you. I hope you feel better soon!”
- “Did you know that even superheroes don’t feel well sometimes? And do you know what they do to feel better? They get lots of sleep and eat lots of healthy superfoods to feel better. I love you, my superhero!”
- “When I’m feeling scared, I think back to the last thing that scared me and how I overcame it. You’re so strong, you’ll get through this, too! Love you, little one!”
Here are some ideas for what to say to a sick child:
- “I hope you’re eating all your favorite foods and watching all your favorite movies. You need to rest up and drink all your juice and water so you can feel big and strong and play your puppy again. Get well soon!”
- “Hey super[girl/boy], I heard you’re not feeling too hot — I bet you could still beat me in a race, though (but no flying, that’s cheating!). Feel better.”
- “The sun will come up tomorrow, you have to remember that! So, no matter how dark and stormy you’re feeling today, there’s always tomorrow. I love you.”
Here are some ideas for what to say to a sick teenager:
- “There’s no one more prepared in the world to take this on than you. I know it sucks and it’s scary and it shouldn’t be happening to you — but it is. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that you’ll overcome this with grace and strength just like everything else you’ve accomplished!”
- “You’re so important to me, I’m so sorry to hear that my favorite person isn’t feeling well! I hope you’re getting enough rest and fluids so that we can plan a get together soon. Be kind and gentle to yourself through this time.”
- “Do kids these days still say ‘sick’ as in cool? Well, anyway, it’s totally not cool that you’re sick. I’ll be thinking of you and praying for your recovery — I need you feeling better — no one else is around to make fun of my outfits!”
Even the Worst Circumstances Can Benefit From Positivity
The mind-body connection is a real thing. It’s likely that you want to see your loved one enjoy their life as much as possible, regardless of their health limitations. Doing your part by sharing words of encouragement can work wonders for them.
Even if their body does not respond with a quicker recovery or is even able to recover at all, you’re providing them with love and support. These two things are arguably what everyone spends their whole life chasing — finding it makes all the difference.