Read The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words by Susan P. Halpern Online


What should I say when I hear that my friend has cancer? How can I help but not get in the way? How do I let my loved ones know what I need? The Etiquette of Illness is a wise, encouraging, and essential guide to navigating the complex terrain of illness. This collection of anecdotes and insights will help those who feel awkward and unsure about responding to a friend, colWhat should I say when I hear that my friend has cancer? How can I help but not get in the way? How do I let my loved ones know what I need? The Etiquette of Illness is a wise, encouraging, and essential guide to navigating the complex terrain of illness. This collection of anecdotes and insights will help those who feel awkward and unsure about responding to a friend, colleague, or relative who is suffering. The book is also for people who are ill and want to engage with their loved ones effectively. We read about a range of people who are dealing with chronic illness, doctor-patient communications, and end-of-life issues-and who are striving to find their way with awareness and compassion. Drawing on her years of counseling people with serious illness, as well as her own experiences with cancer, Susan Halpern presents an insightful book of the utmost relevance for patients, their caregivers, and their family and friends - a group which will, at some point, include all of us. Susan P. Halpern is a social worker and psychotherapist. She is the founder of the New York Cancer Help Program and a staff associate at the Commonweal Cancer Help Program. She lives with her husband, near their children and grandchildren in Berkeley, California. This is her first book. The Etiquette of Illness is a finalist for the Books for a Better Life award. The Etiquette of Illness is an An Amazon "Editor's Pick" for Best Book of the Year (2004)....

Title : The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781582343839
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words Reviews

  • Elyse
    2019-02-04 20:48

    Update:This is not a book about Cancer!This is not a book about treatments!This book is useful in be speaking appropriately to a person who is sick.This book is for a person who 'is' sick to support 'asking' for what they need from others.This book has great little examples of things not to say -not to do -what do do -when to do -This book has several stories for readers to connect with -think about -and relate to. I give this book as a gift 'with' a couple of other books (as a package) when looking for gifts for those who are sick.As another Goodreads member, (Hikerdee), has posted ---She also first heard of this book when she read "The End of Your Life Book Club" (A FANTASTIC-FANTASTIC BOOK) Will Schwalbe.When I read the 2,000 +++ reviews on Amazon about 'THIS' book, "The Etiquette of Illness", with an average of 5 stars, I knew I not only needed to read it-own it--but also call our local "Center For Spiritual Living" book store and tell them to order 'tons' of copies for 'their' book store. (I knew they did not carry this book). They've ordered it!This is a book which makes a difference! (for people who ARE sick ---and for people who have friends and family members who have an illness) Last year, *two* friends had Cancer of the pancreas. (both are now doing well). This year (within the last few weeks) ---*two* friends have told me they each have Cancer. Patty has bone Cancer.I know her from taking workshops together at 'The Center for Spiritual Living"Ofrit (a close friend), from Israel, has Breast Cancer ---which as come back from last year. I will be going through the long journey with her during her 4 months of Chemo. (plus twice a week we will walk together). I'm at the age (60) where I feel its my responsibility to read this book. If I had not read this book 'before'....the time sure has come!

  • Camie
    2019-02-10 15:47

    3.5 stars. Because I have worked as a registered nurse and worked with lots of very ill people , I didn't feel like this book provided me with too much new information although I 'm sure many people will find it very helpful. It has many stories with great examples of how to best deal with different people and the circumstances of their different needs during illness. Because I have a chronic illness I found the chapter pertaining to it most interesting , having experienced in my case that most people simply ignore the fact that I am ill. I understand that many people just indeed do not know what to say or how to help. My favorite line in the book was on page 3." The simple phrase , I don't know what to say , can be the catalyst, and everything can flow from there ." I think this is something that could be helpful in many situations not just with those who are ill , but anyone who we wish to help in time of need , or even just reconnect with , or apologize to. How many times have we thought of someone and let that moment go by because " we don't know what to say . " Overall a good read.

  • Lici
    2019-02-18 21:31

    This is a nice book. Each chapter addresses a unique issue within the topic of illness. It is written not only for those who are well and are wondering how to approach someone with illness but also for those who are ill and not sure how to deal with others around them. There are no grand revelations or rules given in this book. She uses story after story of people in these circumstances to nudge the reader into seeing how life looks through the lens of illness (and that it is different for everyone.) I would recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with illness or death for the first time or having anxiety about what to say or do for a friend facing illness or death. It's a generous and gentle approach for overcoming your shortcomings and being the most compassionate person you can be for the people you care about.

  • MaryJS
    2019-01-22 19:23

    A wonderful read for caregivers, hospice workers, and people with chronic/terminal illness. As a caregiver, I found all of the chapters worthwhile. However, I would recommend specific chapters - talking to children, death and dying, what to say, etc for specific people. Some clients will want/need to read the whole book, others would be helped with specific chapters. Still others may want to read the book over a period of months or years.Having read this book over the weekend, I found myself using it with 4 clients today. Wow! This text encouraged me to have frank conversations about chronic illness and death/dying with several clients. I think that the most important thesis from this book is to take the risk to say what is in your heart. Susan Halpern encourages us to act or speak if you have the inclination. Whether it is reaching out with a card, word, or action - she reminds us to be our best (and bravest) selves and reach toward our friends and relatives. Thank you Susan - for an easily readble text that takes the terror, uncertainty, discomfort, and fear out of difficult conversations and gives the reader the courage (and some prompts) to speak to those who are ill among us.

  • Cagne
    2019-01-28 15:45

    Somebody told me books like this are possibly a waste of time, but there is no end to how awkward I can feel. Overall it's a collection of single episodes, experiences, arranged by themes, to give you a bit of an idea of human interaction when one of the people is sick. Starting from the idea of prepping myself, I was surprised upon reading the parts from the point of view of the person with an illness, but they are equally useful. Things I found interesting/useful:-the warnings against trying to help too much, against making the receiver feel more uncomfortable with their condition.-the importance of exposure of kids to death.-dealing with people crying, specially the list of the appropriate/unappropriate things to say. In the end, the book might not reveal to you anything you don't already assume or know, but it's still a needed immersion into the description of an experience, to get your bearings and feel less out of place in... hurt. It's also a beautiful looking book. Size, cover, text... The note about the font, Adobe Caslon, made me take a step into e-readers and fonts.

  • Krista Stevens
    2019-02-12 13:37

    This edition was published in 2004, there is a more current one and I am curious how it has been updated. With today's social media, I think the book would be very different. Email is barely mentioned.Because I am already been well-acquainted with both dying and death, this book did not offer me any fresh perspectives. However, for those who are uncomfortable with their own and other's illnesses and pending deaths, this might be a great book. Lots of short anecdotes, though a little too saccharine for my liking. The advice of what to say, how to say things, what not to say, how to help, how to tell children are clear and concise.

  • Jeannette M. Hartman
    2019-02-08 19:31

    This is a helpful, handy book for those times when someone you care about is facing a serious diagnosis, a difficult chronic condition or a terminal condition. Author Susan P. Halpern, a psychotherapist who has led or founded a number of cancer support groups and has herself been treated for lymphoma, is clear that there's no rote prescription that can cover all circumstanced. Her many anecdotes demonstrate a variety of approaches, some that worked and some that didn't. Ultimately, this book shows that it is better to reach out than not and that we have more options than we might realize to support someone who is ill.

  • Bdalton
    2019-02-07 14:52

    I read about this book in The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. There is a tremendous need for a book that addresses how to best support people with serious illnesses. In addition to providing valuable phrases (the "what to say when you can't find the words" of the title), Susan Halpern provides the stories of many caregivers and people dealing with a variety of illnesses. These stories may provide comfort and confidence to those seeking the words to ask for what they need.Halpern does not provide a succinct rules of etiquette. Instead, advice is found throughout the point. Here is a small list of the do's and don'ts found in the book:1. "It is tempting with illness, to quickly pass on what we know. But it's important to check carefully each time to learn whether the person with the diagnosis wants it known. Why do we violate the privacy of others so freely with illness? .... it is not our place to relieve our discomfort by intruding on someone else's privacy." Allowing people to share their own story with whom they want when they are ready preserves dignity. If someone was raped or assaulted, would people share that story so freely? Or, would they be protective of the attacked individual's privacy during a difficult time? The same ethical considerations apply.2. "In the arena of helping, it is important to gauge your giving. ...I am a strong advocate for doing something when you hear a friend is ill, I would add that it is important to keep your assistance in line with what's possible for you and respectful of your sick friend's ability and desire to care for himself or herself, as well as congruent with your relationship." 3. "Family and friends, out of their own desire to fix, cure, and be helpful, often give advice...This directives arise from the best of intentions, but they are not respectful of the needs of the diagnosed person." 4. "To ask, "How did you get this?" is not appropriate. ...There are few of us who know what caused our cancer or chronic illnesses. Whatever we did, millions of other people do without getting sick." 5. "Let the wishes of the person who is ill be the guide, not your agenda. Over time, a person who is ill has changing needs and the ability to help changes. From time to time, ask the question, "What can I do?" again."Halpern's basic advice is to be honest, kind, caring, and respectful of the ill person's wishes. If you or someone you know if not behaving in a manner that is in keeping with these principles, then you are behaving in hurtful manner to someone who is already struggling. If you are sharing information about a persons illness without their consent and asking others hide this revelation from the sick person, than you are asking others to join you in treating the ill individual disrespectfully and in a manner that will foster distrust. If you are the person receiving the information, you can always tell the "sharer" that you will let the person know that the "sharer" has told you about the illness. In that way, you need not participate in gossip or a request that compromises your integrity. Halpern says that if you are worried that you have made a mistake, you can always try again. One out of every two Americans will have a chronic or life-threatening illness in their life. Learning how to ask others to treat us when our turn comes, is incredibly important. Improving our ability to respond politely and compassionately is important both professionally and personally. Everyone can benefit from reading The Etiquette of Illness: What to Say When You Can't Find the Words.

  • Shirley Freeman
    2019-01-25 20:52

    A friend lent me this book after it was recommended in "The End of Your Life Book Club" by Will Schwalbe. I plan to get a copy as a reference. The author has survived lymphoma and has interviewed many patients, former patients and family and caregivers to find out best practices for responding to people who are ill - chronically, terminally or temporarily. There are some specific suggestions for things to say and do and things Not to say and do but most of the advice is more situational. Some people want to be asked about their illness, some people don't, some change their minds depending on various parameters. The key seems to be to use common sense, forgive yourself and others, check in with the person who is ill and simply ask, "do you want me to ask how you are feeling today?" Our responses should be in proportion to the already established relationship - i.e. different etiquette for your best friend vs. an acquaintance. Most of us need a dose of common sense in times of stress - this book will help.

  • Annette Reynolds
    2019-02-10 15:31

    This is a well-written, easy-to-read book on what to do to help yourself and people you know/love in the face of severe illness or imminent death. Written in the first person using the author's own experiences with her cancer diagnosis, she also adds many other stories from other people who have gone through it all and what made them feel better, what helped, what didn't help when it came to friends wanting to do the right thing. The book is a good guide for anyone - sick or not - because the author tells ways to ask for help as well as how to ask HOW to help. The author's style is compassionate and kind, and the book doesn't read like a how-to manual. My only complaint: the book is poorly formatted (lines aren't justified, making the book look jumbled and messy), and there are quite a few typos or missing punctuation marks throughout.

  • Dee ReneeChesnut
    2019-01-29 19:44

    The Etiquette of Illness was recommended to me when I read The End of Your Life Book Club. It also had the recommendation of Dawn, a reviewer who recommends it to all readers of a certain age. I knew I needed to read this book because I tend to give too much advice that begins with the phrase, "What you ought to do..." or I avoid people with illness or people who are grieving. I have been taught avoidance by the best, and it is high time I learned better ways. I still found myself arguing with the book when the author's suggestions are not something I felt I could do. The book gets 4 stars for discussing the topics in its 7 chapters.

  • Rosemary
    2019-02-11 20:35

    I have intended to read this book as it came into my consciousness over the years. I finally got it out from the library. If you are now, or ever think you might be, dealing with loss or death in your life or in a friends' lif, or a family members' life, this is a wonderful resource teaching how to be in such times. What questions to ask. How to hold open the ambiguity. Letting the person who is ill or dying decide what particular conversation makes sense. Whether it's a deep and soulful accounting, or a trashy discussion of the latest tv drama. I am glad I read it. I hope I am a better friend/family mamb/confidant/confessor because of this book.

  • Cyndie
    2019-02-11 20:52

    What do you say to someone you care about who is dealing with illness, disfigurement, or the possibility of death? I'm sure I'm not alone in not knowing what to say or how to handle the situation in a way that is compassionate and caring. What do you say? Is it more polite to say something or not say something? This book gets at the heart of these challenges and gives specific tips but also general advice about how to continue to show needed love and caring while being respectful of the other person's needs. Fantastic. Should be required reading for every human being. Great insights for doctors as well.

  • Jc
    2019-02-19 19:47

    This book does exactly what it sets out to do. I couldn't ask for more. I think that it is necessary for a book of this sort that is built on such personal experience to be flawed in its presentation because people are flawed. I was happy to read of the many errors and triumphs the real people become involved on. I recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with illness and feels even a little befuddled by the whole process.

  • Laura Siegel
    2019-01-25 19:53

    I read this book over about a six-month period-not because it is slow but because it is one to savor. It is divided into short sections and I enjoyed reading a bit each day. The book deals with people who are ill, have disabilities or are caregivers. It covers how to communicate, ask for what you want and don't want, how to respect each persons individual needs. The author herself has dealt with lymphoma. I found it very helpful in navigating all kinds of personal situations.

  • Karen
    2019-02-21 14:38

    I thought this book sounded wonderful but I was disappointed after reading it. It's an anthology of many many stories told to the writer by cancer patients while she was in cancer treatment herself. While it's somewhat interesting to read all of these personal stories, I was actually hoping for some general guidance about talking with cancer patients. What I took away, after 200 pages, is to ask them if they want to talk about it. I was hoping for better, stronger guidance.

  • Cara Hinton
    2019-02-07 19:26

    Very good reminder, this book. The bottom line, is that nothing is really out of line when you are ill or you're caring for someone who is ill. Use your gut and be kind....shouldn't we do that every day anyway? If you're close to someone ill, or a caregiver, or both, this book can be a gentle reminder of how to help without intruding.....and remember everyone is different, even you.

  • Lisa
    2019-01-28 15:47

    This book makes you think about how to react to people with illnesses. It is not a how to. It has real examples of people. Each person wants something different. Basically it teaches you to be think before we speak.

  • Lynne Griffin
    2019-02-18 16:27

    For those who have ever wondered what to say to someone braving a life-threatening or chronic illness.

  • Crystal
    2019-02-08 15:36

    There were a number of errors that should have been caught by a proofreader. In spite of those I found this book extremely insightful and definitely worth the read.

  • Catherine
    2019-01-27 15:47

    It was just what I needed. Lots of short examples from the real lives of patients, their caregivers, and their loved ones.

  • Ellie C
    2019-02-01 15:35

    While I am not dying, I do struggle with chronic conditions and over the years I have found that talking about my health feels taboo with most of the people in my life. Reading this helped me re enter my compassion for others as they struggle to find the words and the ways to be present, as I also struggle to find the ways and words to share. I desperately wish everyone had the chance to read this book.

  • Beth
    2019-02-19 13:30

    Thought provoking and helpful. Very anecdotal.

  • Mary Lou
    2019-01-31 17:34

    In a nutshell, do something (rather than stop coming around because you're uncomfortable), and listen!

  • Becky Roper
    2019-02-04 15:43

    I read about this book in "The End Of Your Life Book Club", so maybe my expectations were too high. It was mostly common sense, as far as I'm concerned, but then I have been a hospital nurse for 40 years so maybe that has skewed my view. Luckily it was a quick read.

  • Alan Livingston
    2019-01-25 17:49

    I’m not quite sure what I was looking for or expecting when selecting this book. Perhaps comparing how one allegedly qualified author would have people react to those dealing with severe medical issues? Perhaps direction on how to deal with death, including our own forthcoming demise? Perhaps a comparison of one cancer patient’s experiences with another, my own? Perhaps guidance on today’s version of how to share bad news with children? I think I really was looking for a book on the subject which I could recommend to others. I got none of the above.What I’m quite sure I wasn’t looking for was an author’s self-indulgence, their proclamation of their societal status compared to mine, and to yours. If you can, or would like to, identify with the author’s sabbatical to the Rockefeller Monastery in Italy in order to write her book; the author’s appreciation for her opportunity to relax in bed overlooking the coastline below Massachusetts (forgive me if I have the wrong spot); as a cancer patient, if you’d identify with her qualification of her room as being large, open, and airy…perhaps I’ve made my point. I’m thinking there are millions dealing with life issues like she has faced that are unable to count on such aspects as part of our treatments and/or recoveries. Not saying she didn’t earn it. No judgements on my part, maybe my reaction says more about me than of her. Don’t know, don’t care.Reading this book was for me the proverbial “boat anchor dragging in the mud”. Only because slushing through its dribble in search of something worthwhile produced the general good advice to be considerate of others, I was able to bring my view of this book “up” to the “It Was OK” two stars

  • Deb Richards
    2019-02-07 21:23

    There was so much about this book that I liked. To sum it up though, I liked all of the good sense recommendations for dealing with illness, aging and death. What drew me originally to the book was Halpern's suggestion to ask an ill person if they want to talk about how they are feeling as opposed to just asking point blank how they feel. Having been diagnosed 20 years ago with Multiple Sclerosis, I mostly find the latter question intrusive, especially when there is an undertone that I must not be well because I have a chronic illness. Being asked if I want to talk about how I feel is more considerate and gives me the freedom to talk or not talk, invariably leaving me more inclined to talk.That is just one of the helpful hints. With aging parents, I appreciated the sections and lists on how to have the hard conversations as well. There are helpful lists and tips throughout the book.A must read for anyone who is sick, knows someone who is (don't we all?), is in the sandwich generation or just plain wants to be a considerate person in the realm of speaking with others.

  • Lindsey
    2019-02-08 21:33

    The Etiquette of Illness is a thoughtful, approachable book that poses personal stories as thought-provoking examples of how to be supportive of a person experiencing illness. The author, Susan Halpern, is a trained therapist and experience cancer herself. Her professional and personal experience provide the basis of the content. Because the book is somewhat anecdotal and loosely organized into chapters, you can easily skip to content that seems most relevant to you at the moment. This book helped me consider how my intentions/actions would be perceived by others, though I wanted more specific guidance. Perhaps it's just my personality to want more specifics than could be offered for a subject matter like this. This is a book I could return to over time as I encounter new situations or people in my life going through a serious illness.

  • Christina
    2019-02-12 16:31

    Through a series of various real life stories, Susan Halpern shares with the reader ways to communicate with those who are dying or suffering from a chronic illness. Not only does she offer advice for ways the well person can communicate with the sick but also how the sick person can effectively and meaningfully convey their needs and wishes with the well person. This book was mentioned in the "End of your life book club" by Will Schwalbe. ex of what someone who is aching likes to hear p32- " I am here with you through this" , "You are perfect just the way you are", "its ok to cry", "take your time with your sadness", "you don't have to be cheerful all the time with me", " I love you".

  • Sheila
    2019-02-21 17:43

    There are all sorts of wonderful books out there on how to deal with/sort out/talk to and about illness and impending death with family and friends. This is a good one and has many helpful suggestions and anecdotes. It doesn't have the writing depth that others do (Kitchen Table Wisdom is a classic) or the clarity and focus of Final Gifts (which focuses on palliative care) but it's worth a read. It would have benefited from better organization, I think, to make the information more accessible. Within the chapters, stories are mixed in with suggested phrases in no particular order - using headings and separating the lists would make it easier to flip through to find what you need. Also an index would have been great.