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How To Be A Friend To A Friend Who's Sick

Everyone knows someone who is sick or suffering. Yet when a friend or relative is under duress many of us feel uncertain about how to cope. We may freeze or panic in the face of another person's misery, botch gestures meant to ease, attempt to problem-solve when we have no idea what we're talking about, say the wrong thing, or talk too much. Some of us don't visit our sick friends at all. Others visit, overstay, and make things worse.

Throughout her recent bout with breast cancer, Letty Cottin Pogrebin became intrigued by her friends' and family's diverse reactions to her and her diagnosis: how awkwardly some of them behaved; how they misspoke or misinterpreted her needs; and how wonderful it was when people read her right. She began talking to her fellow patients at Memorial SLoan-Kettering Cancer Center as well as dozens of other veterans of serious illness, seeking to discover what they wished their friends knew about how to comfort, help, and even just talk to them without making them feel different or doomed.

Now Pogrebin had distilled their collective stories, insights, opinions, and ideas into this wide-ranging compendium of concrete guidance and usable wisdom. Her advice--infused with sensitivity, warmth, and (believe it or not) humor--is interwoven with candid stories from her own journey through the land of the sick and her sometimes imperfect interactions with her own sick friends.