If a friend is dying?

A coworker whom I’ve known for 15 years has cancer and probably isnt going to make it.

I want to write something on a card but I’m not sure what to say. Obviously a “Get Well Soon” card or message would be in poor taste.

Any ideas?

I’ve always thought that “See you on the other side” displayed just the right sort of noncommittal optimism for the sort of occasion where you weren’t sure that you or the person you’re addressing was going to make it through.

Or, perhaps, a bit from Invictus;

It has been an honour and a privilage having known you for these many years. You’re in my thoughts. As is your huge new monitor and lovely ficus.

This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time. - Tyler Durden

You don’t have to say ‘get well soon’ and you don’t have to say ‘sorry you’re dying’.

Personally, I would go for words to the effect “So sorry to hear about your illness - if there’s anything you need, please let us know - we’re all thinking of you”

Mangetout has the right answer.

You can also say “I’ve enjoyed working with you, and the office isn’t the same without you” as part of the message. We spend a lot of time at work and having your personality mentioned as a positive factor is always nice.

Also, if possible, go see him/her every so often. People visit a lot at first then drop off as time goes on.

Another vote for “Thinking of You” type cards being appropriate for situations in which getting “well” is unlikely.

And also a vote just for writing a note saying some kind of “thank you for being my friend” or other comments on why you’ve enjoyed knowing this person.

Gonna echo the choir: A message saying I’m thinking of you and is there anything that I can do please let me know.

Personal opinion is to avoid commenting on the death “we will miss you” and all that because it’s reminding the person they are gonna die (and probably soon). I understand the sentiment and it’s not WRONG to put it on, but I’d avoid it

It should be noted that Miss Manners frowns on calling for dibs on tools or golf cubs before he’s actually dead, so I wouldn’t include that.

But more seriously, write a message and include some fun memories that you share. “Do you remember when . . .”

One I’ve used in this circumstance for a couple fellow sci-fi fans is from John Brashear

We have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

Please don’t say that. Seriously, it’s pretty meaningless. Unless you intend calling, stopping over, whatever to see what they do need. Call their partner, see what’s needed. Show up with magazines, food, snacks, whatever, go over and walk their dog or wash their car or something, but please don’t throw out that old platitude.


Having been on the receiving end of this remark for both the death of a child and personal illness, particularly in writing it comes off as a great deal less thoughtful and sincere than you might intend.

But how is it meaningless when it’s genuine?

If I sincerely will do anything you need if you need it, and you don’t tell me what you need, how is that my fault?

It isn’t that it’s your fault for not being sincere, it’s that it puts the burden of asking for help on the person/people who are busy being sick/dying/mourning their family member.

If you WANT to help, then buck the hell up, show up, and ask them what they need you to do. Don’t pass the buck by making them call and ask, hoping that you’re serious about it, unlike Mary down the hall who also wrote it on her card, and when they called asking for someone to watch the baby during a doctor’s appointment, find out that Mary has an amazingly and totally full schedule from now until the Rapture, despite her lovely offer of help.

We had a coworker pass recently, and sadly, it happened too fast to get a card sent, but it’s bloody difficult to find a decent card for someone who is terminally ill. We ended up getting a generic “Sympathy” card, and a generic “Thinking of You” card, but neither were quite right.

I’m assuming this is a card being signed by a group of co-workers?

How about “Me too”, and sign your name.

If you were the recipient of such a card, what would you want people to say? Would you even consider such a card to reflect anything at all except the fact that somebody in the office has been assigned the duty to see that such social gestures are properly executed.

If “a friend” is dying, you do something a great deal more personal than sign a card, to make y our feelings known.

Hah! I would love this. But then, I’m an asshole. I’d probably write back something like, “You’ll take my ficus from my cold dead - wait, actually, I suppose you will.”

I don’t really see the value of sending a card–that sounds more like something an acquaintance would do–not what a friend would do.

If it’s sincere, make specific suggestions. Meals, driving, whatever.

That’s why I said ‘words to the effect’ people. The message has to be crafted to the context - if you can sincerely offer help, then do so - if you think it will come off as trite and meaningless, then say something else.

To an extent, anything you say can be construed as meaningless. What use are words, really?

They do make serious illness cards, a well stocked card shop will have a small selection. I just checked my local CVS and they had one about “wishing you strength day by day.”