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Posted at: Feb 9, 2018, 12:39 AM; last updated: Feb 9, 2018, 12:39 AM (IST)MANNER BORN

Get well soon

Be cautious as well as courteous when expressing concern over health
Get well soon

Abha Chaudhary

Any etiquette surrounding a minor illness is fairly straightforward .We know how to be careful, not to spread anything contagious –the common cold included. So, to someone who’s under the weather ,we offer a polite message “ Sorry to hear you’ve been down with flu ,I hope you’re feeling better “A more serious illness, including the recovery period after an operation ,calls for a get well soon card or note ,flowers or perhaps a visit at a suitable time if not immediately.

Offer comfort 

Dealing with a debilitating illness makes more demands on loved ones and friends ,all of whom want to make such difficult days as comfortable for the patient as possible. Family and friends alike may struggle for the right words when someone is seriously ill. No matter how you word it ,an “I am here for you “ will reassure the person of your love and support. Just listening can be therapeutic .It can give him the opportunity to express his own fears and concerns. 

A kind gesture

Acts of kindness can range from spending time with the ill to give a periodic break of respite to a near one on whom the care giving falls. This respite care is vitally important for the mental health and effectiveness of the caregiver and the family as a whole. When planning to visit someone who is ill at his home ,always call first. Never arrive unannounced .Likewise start a phone call by asking if it’s a good time to talk .If the person is not feeling well, he may not be up to it. If you think it wise to just send a message, be considerate to send in a warm worded one to show your genuine concern, than just a simple “wish you a speedy recovery “.This can be a bit too distant. Unless you’re visiting a close relative or friend who’s indicated he would like you to linger, plan about a half an hour visit. 

Sick, but not sad

While you’re there it’s important to be in the sick person’s “zone “and let him guide the conversation. People who are ill may show less enthusiasm for the things that usually interest or irritate them. It is very important not to patronise or speak condescendingly. Just because a person is bedridden or using a wheelchair doesn’t mean his mental faculties aren’t sharp. Although running errands for friends who are ill and bringing food when you visit are welcome in most cases, you should always ask before doing any favours. 

Thought that matters 

Visiting someone in the hospital requires some thought, especially when the illness is serious .Always check to see if and when the patient can have visitors. When you arrive on the floor, be courteous toward nurses and the other hospital staff. Avoid asking for special attention from anyone who is obviously busy –your friend or loved one is not the only patient on the floor! 

(Chaudhary is a Chandigarh-based etiquette expert)

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