There are certain things that happen in life that make it really, really hard to find the right words to say. Emily McDowell is hoping to change that.
Emily, who battled Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was 24 and is now 38 years old and cancer-free, creates cards that she wishes people had given to her when she was sick. They feature real-talk messages that don’t reek of awkwardness, like, “One more chemo down! Let’s celebrate with whatever doesn’t taste disgusting.”
“I’m hoping these cards can help the recipients feel like they’re being heard and understood,” says Emily. “I also really want these cards to open the door to better communication. I think that, a lot of time, people need a bit of help feeling comfortable around someone going through a serious illness.”
Here are our favorites from Emily’s empathy card collection, with Emily’s input on the idea behind each one:
“There are so many people who try to sort of push on you some sort of cure that they think you don’t know about. It’s really invasive and strange. People think that they’re doing someone a favor but, the thing is, people who are sick have the Internet, too. Believe me, we’ve done our research. It’s tough to get bombarded.”
“People will say things like, ‘Oh, my friend’s cousin had that…and she passed away.’ So many people say that, and it’s like, ‘Why do you say that?’ People don’t know what to say and they try to relate.”
“Platitudes are hard. Some people respond to them and some don’t. Things like, ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’… it rubs a lot of people who are sick the wrong way.”
“If you don’t know what to say, it’s better to say, ‘I’m so sorry I don’t know what to say. I love you,’ rather than trying to come up with something that’s going to make them feel better.”
Know someone who could use a “real” greeting card? Emily’s cards, which retail for $4.50, can be purchased online at EmilyMcDowell.com.