What to say to a very sick person


My niece has 4th stage kidney cancer and is not responding well to treatment. She is 47 with a disabled (lung condtion) husband and four children (ages 11-15, a set of twins).

She has texted me that her faith is shaky because God is not answering our prayers for her to be cured.

I'm not sure what to say to her.

Any suggestions?



I have no advice, but you and your niece are in my prayer.


I'm so sorry to hear about your niece's condition. I can only imagine her fears and her hopes. Just let her know you are praying for her and that whatever God wills for her you will be there for her and her family. It may be she is more worried about her children and husband than herself, so if you can alliviate some of her concerns for them, it might be a big help. Also, has she had the annointing of the sick? I'm sure it would be spiritually helpful and also bring about healing of one kind of another. You, she and all involved have my prayers.


Assure her as best you can that God listens to all of us. Encourage her to continue to pray with you if she’s of a mind to. Assure you’re praying like crazy for her, her husband, and their children. Above all, I think, just listen to her. She’s probably really angry (who wouldn’t be?) as well as terrified for her husband and kids, and she really just needs someone to listen to her.




In answer to her prayers, God is going to give her what she needs to become closer to Him, because that is what He lovingly sees as the highest good for her.

This will help! Read this chapter from the short book, Uniformity With God’s Will, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori.


It’s a tiny little book, but a real treasure - maybe you could buy it for your neice.



The number one, most important healing anyone can receive from God is healing of the soul and relationship with Him.

The next most important healing is in our relationships with each other.


God always answers our prayers. It’s just that sometimes, the answer is “No.” or “Not now.”

It may help her to put life into perspective. We’re only here on this earth for a short while compared to eternity. We must all die, and if we are wise, we accept death in the time, place, and manner of God’s choosing, because we know He wants only what is best for our salvation. Nobody gets to heaven without a cross. We must have our Good Friday before we can have our Easter Sunday! And suffering is a tremendous gift, which if used properly, can aid the salvation of countless souls, including that of the sufferer.

Maybe it would help if you got her a short book about Charlene Richard, a little girl from south Louisiana who died of cancer. She was diagnosed and went into the hospital in a lot of pain. Fr. Joseph Brennan (whom I’ve met), came to visit her every day. She would ask him who he might recommend for whom she could offer her sufferings for that day. And, most often, he’d recommend someone. A lot of very positive results came from her offering her sufferings. Miracles, some would say. When she died, they discovered that she had not taken all her pain pills (this was before hospitals tracked that sort of stuff so stringently, like today). So, she suffered ever more than imagined. Her cause for sainthood is being studied, I have been told. You can find the book at the following link, I believe:



Thank you all for your responses. I should have added that her father died (probably also kidney cancer. We thought it was spinal cancer at the time) when she was sixteen and her mother died of ovarian cancer when she was 25. She's the second oldest of six and took on a lot of family responsibilities after her mother died.

Since she lived through what her children might have to live through, she wants to protect them.

She does know we're all praying for her daily but it's hard to explain to her why her prayers aren't being answered, that is, she's not being cured.

Unfortunately we live in NC and she lives in NY.


This sounds like an inherited condition. If any miraculous healing would have any effect, it would have to be a “healing of the family tree.” There is a link on the bottom of that page to request Masses.



While we all know that God could cure these conditions in an instant, it may not be His Holy Will (which is easy for me to say, it isn’t me watching my friend suffering). If it is not Gods’ will, we can at least take comfort from the fact that this decision will certainly not be due to any absence of Gods’ infinite love and compassion. However, I am uncertain how much good it would do for your friend to hear this (you know the people involved much better than I). All I can offer is my promise to include your friend and the family in my Rosary intentions for the foreseeable future.

God bless you all


We are all so very unique and what works for one mayn't work for another.

Tell her, if you do, that you understand why it may seem that God is ignoring her prayers but really he is with her second by second just being with her. He will never leave her because God doesn't do that to us. That he loves her very deeply and wants her to trust in him with her pain and despair. Just keep repeating that God loves her - he really does. Its okay for her to feel angry. Its natural. But he does love her.


[quote="irishcolleen45, post:1, topic:277995"]
My niece has 4th stage kidney cancer and is not responding well to treatment. She is 47 with a disabled (lung condtion) husband and four children (ages 11-15, a set of twins).

She has texted me that her faith is shaky because God is not answering our prayers for her to be cured.

I'm not sure what to say to her.

Any suggestions?



Because I'm a bit of a bastard, I'll go ahead and say it.
If that's her reasoning, she doesn't really have faith.

Look, I get it. It sucks when bad things happen do you. Look at the Holocaust, look at sub-Saharan Africa for the last 500 years. Look at WWI, Stalin and 9-11, and the decade-long Taliban occupation of Afghanistan. There are things in this world we find to be terrible.

But she's fine with all this terrible stuff happening as long as it happens to other people. Now that it's happening to her, she's refusing to believe in Him for allowing bad stuff to happen to her?

She's dying. She needs to think about what terms she wants to meet God on, and what example she wants to set for the children she leaves behind. Those are things that are currently in her power, and that's what she needs to focus on.


I will apologize for the unnecessarily harsh tone of my (now deleted) post. Let me re-iterate the last line in the hopes of being helpful.

Sometimes things happen that are out of our control.
What I would advise is to tell her to focus on the things she can control. Specifically, how she wants to meet God, and what example she wants to be for her children.


Assure her that her husband and kids will be well loved and taken care of after she is gone. Humans get sick and die, which is terrible and tragic, but it is through God and the love we share in Him that life is possible at all. God may not answer her prayers for a cure, but He will give her what she needs: knowledge that her loved ones will be safe. Tell her that the love she has for her family will not fade away, but will be continued through you and all those who love her.


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