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Use supportive language

The way we talk about experiences can have a big impact on how we view the healing journey.

father talking to son

Why it's important

Sometimes in the stress of dealing with the losses and uncertainties of illness, persons going through treatment and their caregivers say things that we wouldn't normally. It may be how we feel in the moment, but it is not helpful in encouraging a positive focus.

Below are some common expressions of and helpful responses to these feelings.

"When you are sick, a lot of bad things happen and you can't do anything about them."

Response: There are ways to balance your positive and negative experiences. Encourage a person to focus on what can be done and praise them for the progress or efforts that have been made.

"For a caregiver, there are so many problems to deal with that one can't find time for pleasant activities."

Response: Family caregivers need to continue enjoyable activities as much as the person going through treatment. This is especially important for people who are under stress. Be an example to the person you are caring for by encouraging them through your continued activity and positive focus.

"No activity is pleasant anymore."

Response: No matter how depressed or upset someone is, there are always some activities and thoughts that are pleasant. Notice the good things that happen each day, even if they are small. Try different activities until you find something pleasurable. Remember if a person has seemed depressed for several weeks, they may need professional help.

"As a caregiver, I feel guilty if I enjoy myself when the person I'm caring for feels sick and needs my help."

Response: You will be a better caregiver if you are in good spirits and less stressed. Scheduling pleasant experiences for yourself is part of being a good caregiver.

"I've tried everything and nothing seems to be working."

Response: Involve others by asking them for ideas and creativity. Continue to give encouragement, praise and patience to the person going through treatment and yourself.

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