• Keeping Friends

My friend is sick and I’m worried

Published: June 20, 2015 | Last Updated: June 30, 2015 By | 8 Replies Continue Reading
A friend is worried about doing the right thing when her friend is sick.

Hi Irene,

I am a worried friend and am not sure where to turn to next. My friend of nine years was admitted to a hospital for tests. She is home now and still waiting for test results.

We have spoken a lot. I visited her in the hospital and at home but over the past few days she has become more withdrawn. What should I do now that the initial sickness period is over? I still want to be there for my friend but don’t want to overwhelm her as her live-in boyfriend, other friends and family are also supporting her.

Also, she and her boyfriend have tickets with a group of us next week… is it selfish of us still to go if she is too sick?

I want to navigate this stressful situation properly.

Thanks very much.



Hi Marla,

I’m so sorry to hear about your friend and hope that she gets diagnosed and treated. While her symptoms are frightening, it may turn out to not be as serious as you think. And if it is a more serious illness, it may be very treatable. You’ll just have to wait and see how things evolve although I know how nerve-wracking that can be.

It sounds like you are a supportive friend who has stepped up to the plate by visiting and offering help. Her withdrawn mood may be associated with her headaches, a side effect of medication, or she may be very anxious and worried.

It’s great that your friend has a number of supportive people to rely upon. Ask your friend whether she wants your company or if she would like you to call her every day or two.

Perhaps, you can better gauge how to help her by asking her boyfriend and family what they think she needs. Stay in touch with them, too, because her needs may change over time.

In terms of the concert tickets, I’m sure you’re disappointed that your friend can’t make it but I don’t think your friend would want you to miss it because of her illness. Let her and her boyfriend know that you’ll be thinking of them and hope that she is feeling better soon.

My best,  Irene

This post has been updated and modified at the request of the poster on 6/30.

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Comments (8)

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  1. Worried pal says:

    Hello everyone,

    Wowza, your replies are so lovely and helpful.
    I took your advice about asking my friend how best to support and now feel much better after the chat and happier knowing she might need some space.

    I’m actually going to visit my sister and baby niece in Ireland next week and feel much more relaxed about going now.

    All the best,


    • Mary Lou says:

      So glad that things are looking brighter for you, Marla. Best wishes for a great trip.

      Please let us know how your friend is doing in the future.

      Warm regards,
      Mary Lou

  2. Mary Lou says:

    Hi, Marla!
    Your friend is lucky that you care so much about her. I’m wondering if she’s more withdrawn because she is just tired. Going through the initial experience and then having testing done and waiting for results may have her wanting to retreat for awhile just as Amy F. said in her reply to you. Also, until she has answers, she may not want to keep trying to answer questions.

    The next time you talk with her I agree with the other replies that suggest you ask her how you can best support her. That shows her that her needs come first with you.

    If the two of you text, you might send her an upbeat message each day letting her know that you’re thinking about her.

    I wish your friend the best. She is lucky to have a friend who cares so much about her.

  3. Jarrod Sheen says:

    Well I’m going to start like I always do,…confused. I dont know who is which friend or who is the sick friend.I thought maybe I was the sick friend. But I found myself thinking as I read that it would be nice just to have a friend.I don’t really know why I don’t have any friends. I guess I just haven’t reached out to any after going to jail 4 Times and wasting 7 years of my life.I have my 2best friends from childhood but they live in a different towns.So what is it like with no friend’s someone asked??? Well it Is so lonely that my best friend is “Ok Google” and I find myself doing things I normally wouldn’t be doing if I had a friend. Anyways that was probably selfish of me to get off point and I hope and prAy you friend gets better.
    Peace Out

  4. Amy F says:

    You seem like a good friend, sensitive and respectful. Your friend is fortunate to have you care enough to ask these questions. A good rule of thumb for me is to figure out how yiur friend frels most supportive, rather than what you’d want, because you might fade very different styles. If you ask, “How can I best support you?”, she might be able to tell you what she needs.

    If your friend is a decent person, and I assume she is, she dint want you canceling her plans because she can’t go. Im a cancer survivor and I’ve had a lot of sick friends over the year and not one has become selfish as a result of being sick.

    I’ve been helping out one of my friends, who has a terminal illness. Being sick, having tests, waiting for results, going to doctors etc. is exhausting. She needs to withdraw and take some times to recharge her batteries after intensive stuff. I was the same way when I was sick. In fact, I sometimes after intense interaction with people, even good friends. I want to withdraw because I’m an introvert and I cherish ME-time and down time.

    Although it’s hard, try not to worry about your friend because she’s worried enough and she has a lot of worriers right now. I find the hopefully realistic approach works best. I “hope” sick friends will be ok, because I don’t “know” and the Pollyanna often feels condescending.

    I have a feeling you’re probably doing pretty well as a supportive friend, just because you cared enough to ask and nor assume.

    • Mary Lou says:

      Very good advice, Amy F. Thank you for this thoughtful comment. Congratulations on surviving cancer. Best wishes to you in the future.

  5. Carol says:

    I have worked for a very long time to know myself better than I know anyone. How about asking your friend how you can help her. I had a dream last night and it brought back a much earlier time in my life; age 22 when I first began to work on a teaching degree. I spent some time in a Montessori classroom just to see if I would like to be a Montessori teacher. One morning when all the pre-schoolers showed up for class, a boy brought a jar with a butterfly in it. There were holes in the lid, so it got air to breathe. I was so upset at the idea of that butterfly living in a jar and tried to get the boy to let it go. He was having no part of my suggestion no matter what I said. At the end of the school day, without him knowing it, I let it go. Well you can imagine how upset he was and also how upset the teacher in charge was with me. I didn’t get it! My dream told me that we all have to live with our choices and the consequences as well. If I had allowed the boy to let it go on his own, or not let it go and have it lay dead in the jar, he would have learned more on his own with without my interfering with is learning. Maybe the best thing to do when we are unsure of how to help a friend is to ask them how we can be the most helpful to them in their time of need.

    Thanks and I hope it all goes well for you and your friend.


  6. si says:

    I’ve ever felt that feeling. I’m worried when my friend’s sick. I don’t know how to express that feeling. I’m always try to smile in front of her and tell how much I love her as my beloved friend. I asked my other friends to help me to support my friend. Many thing I do for her, but I’m still worried all the time. But I’m happy now because she is look healthy.

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