So let's just say that you are out amongst friends, and someone announces that their father will be undergoing open heart surgery or their sister-in-law has terminal cancer. Everyone else in the group says the usual "I will keep you in my prayers!" or "I'll have to add you to our prayer list at church." or "My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family." And I go: "Gee, I hope everything turns out okay. I'll be thinking of you."  It always seems to fall flat. 


I'd love to hear how others handle these type of situations. All suggestions are greatly appreciated.



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You're right - if they don't like what I have to say, it's their problem. I sometimes wish I had a more eloquent way of phrasing things, but it's not like there's a contest going on. No prize for expressing the nicest best wishes.
I'd use "I hope all goes well."  I don't know if that's an improvement over "I hope everything turns out okay."
"I hope everything goes well." - That should do the trick. Thanks!
Suggested reply - "If prayer worked, I would have seen a Faith Healer, not a surgeon!"

While I agree with your sentiment, that is more directed at the others offering to pray that their ego's will help in some way, not the person who is suffering enough already. =D

At least its not as blunt as my "I hope that works out for ya'".

Hi Gina & although I'm only a newbie to the site, I welcome you to the group of rational thinkers.

In regards to your best wishes situation, I agree there is not much help that can be derived from any prayer or prayers. There is a great poster I have which shows a person kneeling in prayer, with the caption below saying "How to do absolutely nothing, but still think your helping!   Another I have says, Two hands working will acheive much much more than even ten thousand hands clasped in prayer. 

Also you could always point out how not even the most ardent religious nutter would ever advocate praying for someone who has lost a leg or an arm for the almighty to heal them & grow another limb.

Hope this is helpful, Cheers CR ;-)

You know, to be honest, even when I was trying to live a religious life the words seems inadequate and lame. I guess when you are dealing with someone else's pain or suffering it makes us people around them feel a little helpless. We feel their pain, but really there isn't anything we can do. Well, I'll have this tested tonight. Just found out that my husband's aunt is in the ICU. I was thinking of saying : "We are here for you. May you recover quickly."

Gina, I think there is no "one general" reply to this.

Thinking about my behaviour in such situations i would say that i choose one of two "paths".

a) Very often i do not say anything at all. I try to "signal" using physical expressions that i feel with the person and that I am there if needed.


b) I limit my statement to something as short and simple as a "I am there, whenever you need me."


Sometimes not saying something or saying only very few things is better than blabla-ing around.


I have to say though that i do not have many people that I call "friends" and those that I call friends should perfectly well know that they can count on me and come to me whenever they need to.


Just my 5 (euro-)cents.

So who says your thoughts are "not as important and effective"? Maybe part of the reason you feel bad in this situation is that you feel a little helpless - there's nothing practical you can do that will make everything OK again. That's natural. The religious folk have a similar problem - they can't do anything that will serve any purpose, but they say they will pray. Maybe it salves their conscience a little but I'm sure they still feel a little helpless as they can't do anything more practical. That's all it is. And a sincerely felt "I'll be thinking of you" should be appreciated just as much as a promise to prayer - I doubt the person concerned will be worrying that they are not getting the maximum number of prayers, but to know that people are thinking of them is probably just as much comfort.
All these people praying about surgery should ask "why did god give them cancer in the first place?" It's sort of like someone rubbing poison ivy on you, and then you hope they bring over some calamine lotion.
It seems as if I often wind up being over-emphatic with my offers to help... to show that atheists aren't monsters, I suppose. "Call me for absolutely anything... really. I mean it.... A twenty mile drive to wash dishes for you wouldn't be too much; honest." They never do. Then I don't know if it's because of my atheism or because they would have called someone else nearer or more familiar instead, anyway. =/




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