What do you give to someone who already has everything? Some people are stumped by this but I think the answer is ‘your time’. When a person is rich and has just about everything money can buy, real friends are usually what they need most. Someone to spend quality time with. Someone who is not hanging with them because of ulterior motives. Now, what do you say to someone who is dying?
There’s a young woman in our church who has terminal cancer. She has been given a short time to live. Before her situation became almost hopeless, it was easy to talk to her. “Hey, how are you doing? How is everything? Praying for you.” It wasn’t awkward. As soon as it was public knowledge that she her life was numbered, I couldn’t find words to say after ‘hello’. I wanted to ask her how was everything but then I already knew how everything was. If someone asked me that while I was sick and dying, I would be tempted to answer with some smart answer like, “Oh I’m fine. Never felt better. I am thinking of taking up rock climbing.” So I don’t ask that. Saying “I am praying for you” seems acceptable but what if she’s trying to keep her mind of her illness and just enjoy her last days? Can’t I just pray for her without telling her? So too is “You’ll beat this!” That’s a bit facetious and misleading.
What do you say? What should I say? I sometime just place a comforting and reassuring hand on her shoulder and I think that must convey more than words. In that touch, I let her know that she’s in my thoughts and I’m praying for her. It also says to keep fighting and “We have your back, kiddo!” So maybe if you are in that situation, a hand on the shoulder could really speak volumes.
In some cases, the very words I hesitate to say could very well be the words that the sick person wants to hear.