I just finished reading this article about Los Angeles–based designer Emily McDowell, and her non-traditional Empathy Cards. McDowell herself was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24, but went into remission after nine months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Going through the cards, I realised that they were reflective of so many things I wanted to say to first my own father, as well other people who were diagnosed with some life debilitating disease. I am generally horribly awkward in these situations, and prefer to keep away entirely for the fear of looking at these individuals in a different light: with pity, or with fear, or apologetically. In my father’s case, it was ironic to sit beside him and listen to people earnestly try to say the usual bright and shiny things about everything being in the hands of some divine being, or some radical new alternative treatment they’d read about.
I know people mean well. But sometimes the words that come out are not quite what the person wants to hear. That’s where I suppose McDowell’s cards can bridge the gap.