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 ;-)

I never feel like I've said the right thing either.  I always say, "I'll be thinking about you/him/her."  It doesn't really mean anything, but at least it shows that I care.  I think I usually try to ask a concerned question or something like that to cover up my lame response, but I always end up feeling just as lame.  The only thing I can say is that nonreligious people like us must secretly appreciate it when we don't say that we will be praying for them. :)
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.

Admitedly, I'm a newbie here too, but I saw a lot of people mentioning the "2 hands praying vs. 2 hands working" theme.

You can always offer your help as well as your thoughts. I spent a lot of time at a hospital bedside this summer, and I can tell you. The one family friend who brought us (the bedside watchers, I would not recommend this for a seriously I'll hospitalized person themselves) a loaf of home-made bread and apple butter meant a whole lot more to us than prayers after 3 days of jello and vending machine fare. Offer to pick up their mail, water a plant, any of the million stupid, simple things that get forgotten when life goes insane.

Not appropriate in all situations, I admit.
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.

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