What do you say to someone after a serious injury?

As a former Magee patient, I am often asked how to help someone who is in the hospital after a life-changing injury. It’s much easier for me to provide guidance on what not to say to a friend or loved one recovering from a brain or spinal cord injury, but it’s equally as important to know what you can say to someone recently injured to let them know you care.

It’s important to know that everyone deals with injury differently, but I hope these tips will be helpful!

  1. “Thank you for letting me come to visit.” I came to understand pretty quickly that people felt much better after they saw me and knew that I was okay. Using this phrase is much better than saying, “You look great,” or “I had no idea what to expect when I was coming to see you.”
  2. “Is there anything I can bring you?” I loved when people would ask this question, because sometimes there were small things I needed or wanted, and I found this to be very helpful. Plus, it’s better to ask this question than to just bring some random thing, just because you felt you needed to bring something to them.
  3. “Tell me about your therapy.” Take a genuine interest in what they are doing and learning. When you are a patient at Magee, a good part of your day is spent in therapy.
  4. “Is there anything I can do to help your wife/husband/family?” A traumatic injury or illness doesn’t just affect the person injured; it affects the entire family. During my most recent hospitalization after skin surgery, I was not really sick, but I was on complete bedrest. My wife, besides working her full-time job, was also taking my laundry home and bringing it back, taking care of the house, doing the grocery shopping, while still wanting to come to the hospital every day so I wasn’t alone. The biggest way my friends helped my wife was by coming to visit at night, so I could tell her to take the night off. While she never wanted to do this, these were also the nights she was able to get to bed by 8 p.m.!

I’ll close by saying that having love and support from family members and friends while in the hospital goes a long way to help someone recover. Please know that calls, cards, and visits mean a lot. My initial injury was almost 21 years ago, and I can still remember the first person who sent food instead of flowers, and how happy that made me! I can also remember how people went out of their way to stop by and visit, even just for a few minutes. It’s the little things that make a difference.

For more information on helping your loved one at Magee, click here

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