15 Things to Say to a Chronically Ill Friend Who Just Canceled Plans

It’s a scenario most people with chronic illness have experienced at one time or another: You’re excitedly anticipating meeting up with friends, but when the big day arrives, you realize you won’t feel well enough to make it. That disappointment can be tough enough — and too often, friends don’t offer a supportive response in return.

So we asked our Mighty community with chronic illness what they wish their friends would say after they tell them they need to cancel plans. To anyone who has a friend with a chronic illness: Instead of being angry or choosing not to invite your friend out again, these responses show you care about their health and are willing to stick by them through the hard times.

Here’s what they told us:

1. “That’s OK, I understand. Let me know if I can do anything to help.”

2. “I will always understand if you have to cancel plans at any time because you’re so seriously ill.”

3. “That’s OK, we’ll bring the party to you!”

4. “How about I go get us some fries and we can chill with Netflix?”

5. “That’s OK, I understand your health comes first. I hope you have a better day tomorrow, let’s catch up later!”

6. “I understand, and it’s not your fault.”

hearts with words i understand and it's not your fault

7. “I wish my friends would suggest bringing the meal or coffee to my house and us watching TV or a movie together.”

8. “We will plan for another time! Get some rest and give me a call if you need anything.”

9. “If they’re looking forward to it, I don’t expect them to cancel all their plans. But it would be nice for them to say, ‘No worries, we’ll do something else another time!’ ‘Hey, I’ll stop by later,’ or ‘I’m free tomorrow, I’ll come over!’”

10. “No problem. Can I help with anything? I love you.”

11. “I understand completely. What can I do to help you? Do you want some company?”

12. “I know you wouldn’t cancel unless it was bad. Miss you.”

drawing of boy and girl holding hands with text of quote

13. “Rest up and give yourself a chance to get over this hurdle. When you’re feeling better we’ll have a good excuse to catch up again. Your health comes first.”

14. “We’ll miss your presence! But totally understand why you can’t make it. Fingers crossed that you can make it next time!”

15. “By doing what my daughter’s friend did — he told me we were going to have movie night and they came over with pizzas, sodas and a movie I’d been dying to see (chronic migraines make seeing movies in theaters something I’ve had to give up). Perfect response and he didn’t care that I looked like death warmed over.”

What do you wish your friends would say when you have to cancel plans? Let us know in the comments.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Illness

The Difficult Truth of Chronic Illness We Need to Get Out in the Open

In my office, whenever I’m about to have a conversation with one of our employees that will be difficult, I always open the conversation the same way: “This is going to be an uncomfortable conversation but we need to have it so let’s both take a deep breath and just work through it.” This is one of those discussions [...]
Group of doctors standing consulting patient records on a tablet computer, close up view

To the Doctors of Patients With Invisible Illnesses Hoping for a Diagnosis

This letter is on behalf of the thousands of patients who have come to you in the hope that you can give them a small piece of normalcy again.  We came to you in tears, in pain and in disappointment. Our bodies have let us down. They’ve taken us hostage in our own skin. Our bodies [...]
two women friends and a brown dog

When I Asked What It's Like to Be Friends With Someone Who's Chronically Ill

I’m convinced that authentic soul friendship is a hard thing to do at any age and in any season. In the past couple weeks I interviewed a few of my friends about what it’s like to be a friend to someone with a chronic illness. As I reflected on their words and friendship more generally, [...]
man lying on hospital bed with yellow heart pillow on him

6 Rules I Live By to Lift the Weight of My Chronic Illness

Living with a chronic illness can be extremely challenging, both mentally and physically. It is a weight we wish upon no one, but I believe it is my true blessing because I see so much in life that so many miss. In my 34 years of having a chronic illness, I know everything I have become and [...]