The Mighty Logo

What to Write in a Greeting Card for Someone With Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

We all have sent cards, texts or left voice messages for our friends and family to express our “Get Well” wishes. We all know someone who has experienced a serious illness, had an accident or needed a surgery. Our well wishes are heartfelt, but sometimes can be a bit awkward, especially if it is a sensitive subject. But what do you say to someone who has been diagnosed with a chronic illness? What card do you send? What message can you write or voicemail can you leave? This is so important because many people do not know how to address chronic illness and often ignore it – not out of neglect, but out of not knowing what to say.

Can you say to someone with chronic illness, “Feel better soon?” You could say that and that may happen but it also seems to glaze over the fact that many chronic illnesses are long-lasting – often with an unpredictable trajectory. Can you say, “Have a speedy recovery” when there isn’t a road to recovery yet because there isn’t a cure for what they have? I have Parkinson’s, an incurable neurological condition. When I announced it, I was greeted with messages of how much strength I have and if anyone can beat this, it is me. But no one really acknowledged my illness. My illness was mysteriously lost in the sincere messages about how I would kick Parkinson’s butt. It was so weird, no one mentioned my disease. They only mentioned my strength to fight the word, Parkinson’s but not the symptoms. This didn’t make me mad, because I knew everyone’s heart was in the right place. It did leave me perplexed though, because I needed my illness validated and I needed to know I wasn’t fighting this alone.

I am certain many of you with chronic illness have experienced this same thing. This is imbedded in our DNA. Chronic illness is often a tough subject because it is often invisible and because of the unknowns for the future. You can see this in the greeting card section. There really aren’t any cards for people with chronic illnesses. If there were, some of the cards might have sentiments like this:

I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. I know this is a life-changing diagnosis for you. I will be there for you each step of the way.

You may have an invisible, chronic illness but I see what you are going through. I know you are fighting every single day and I will always be there for you.

Hope you feel better today than yesterday and please know that you can come to me always if tomorrow is uncertain.

I am so sorry you are struggling and I want you to know that you can share your pain with me. I will be your friend regardless of your illness.

I know your chronic illness is unpredictable, but my support for you isn’t. Please let me help you during your good days and bad days.  

 I want you to know, I may not understand what you are going through, but I want to try.  

Wishing you remission soon and please know that I am here to listen and support you.

Having a friend like you is a special gift and I want you to know that I will walk with you as you live with chronic illness.  

I know your illness is uncertain, but my friendship isn’t. If you need to cancel our plans, never worry. If you need to leave early, never fear. If you just can’t, never apologize. I am always here. 

Wouldn’t it be great to get a card with some of these sentiments? Most of us just want to know that no matter what, you will be there for us. We want our illnesses acknowledged and most importantly, we want to know that we do not have to be superheroes fighting the dastardly chronic illness villain. We really appreciate your love and well wishes.

We do want to know that you will also bear witness to our pain and stand by our sides through good days and bad. Most importantly, please talk to us about our illness and ask about our symptoms, our treatment and our fears. Now with this information, pick out a beautiful card that is blank inside and let your chronically ill friend or family member know how important they are with a heartfelt sentiment!

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty Image by Marfffa

Originally published: February 13, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home