• Joanna Seldon

  • Advice


    If your friend is ill…


    And more especially

    If they’re in hospital:

    Send a card they’ll enjoy

    Looking at from their bed.

    Emails and texts should be

    Short – just showing you care

    And are thinking of them.

    Never ever frame them

    As a question.  Replies

    Are not the pastime of

    The sick, so don’t make them

    Feel they need to message

    Back.  Help them keep their strength

    For things that matter, like

    Eating.  Remember here

    That food is important,

    Food is key, when you’re ill.

    The patient may feel sick

    At the very idea –

    Or, steroid-boosted, long

    For feasts.  Find out if they

    Are on a special diet.

    Never assume that grapes

    Or chocolates are the treat

    You bring when you visit:

    Forbidden fruit, perhaps?

    But do bring edible

    Goodies – of the right sort.

    Don’t – an important rule –

    Outstay your welcome.

    Half an hour to an hour,

    Perhaps?  You can’t tell from

    The patient: on the road

    To recovery, they’ll

    Jabber away, so pleased

    To have company.

    But if you could see through

    That closed door when you’ve left,

    You’d take a guilty gasp

    At the sheer exhaustion

    With which they sink back on

    Their pillow.  All too much.

    Give them news and gossip,

    But please don’t be afraid

    To ask about their health.

    The sense that you’ve become

    An object of fear, source

    Of contamination –

    There’s nothing worse than this

    For the sick; the feeling

    That others simply squirm

    In mute embarrassment.

    Let’s part with one final

    Rule – another never

    Ever: don’t try to call

    Their mobile – though you could

    Text beforehand to check

    If it’s okay.  What might

    The patient be doing

    When you ring?  Enduring

    Blood extraction, talking

    To doctor, unplugging

    The drip en route to the

    Loo?  So just think things through

    And you’ll be the perfect

    Friend to the stalwart sick.