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1. Say, “Anytime you want to talk, I’m here,” instead of “I can’t imagine.”

You want to place the emphasis not on your reaction but on being there for the person you love. People often find themselves isolated when they’re going through difficult times because friends and family don’t know what to say. Let them know you don’t plan on going anywhere and are available for emotional support.

2. Say, “I love you,” instead of “Are you ok?”

People going through a medical crisis don’t always want to share their feelings. When you’re on a rollercoaster of emotion, it can be hard to define the emotions you’re feeling. Rather than corner them into defining how they feel, reassure them of your commitment to being there with a simple “I love you.”

3. Say, “What can I do for you right now?” instead of “How do you feel?”

When someone you love is in pain, it’s normal for us to want to understand. Instead of asking them to provide a narrative on their physical state, ask them for a tangible way to help relieve it. Offer to pick up a prescription, wash some dishes or pick up a meal. Show the person you care about that you’re not merely a spectator but part of their support system.

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