When a friend is sick or grieving, how can you show you care?

April 22, 2013

Being a good friend during life’s most difficult times
Letty Cottin Pogrebin, whose many books and articles I’ve appreciated from the time she co-founded Ms magazine with Gloria Steinem in 1972, has written a new book titled How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who’s Sick. She wrote the book from both own awareness of what she needed from friends after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and from what she learned from the experience of other patients, friends, and families she interviewed. The link takes you to Judith Viorst’s warm, conversational overview of Pogrebin’s book written for the Ms Magazine Blog. It sums up many of the wise and sensitive tips and warnings that Pogrebin has put together to help us know what we should and shouldn’t do when someone we love is suffering from illness or loss. What do you say?  What do you not say? What about visits? What gifts are— or are not— appropriate? “Pogrebin’s book will teach us all how to be there,” says Viorst, “and to be there as our best selves, either in active engagement or quiet sharing,” For related reading (besides the book itself!): See Amy Finnerty’s review written for the Wall Street Journal as reprinted April 8, 2013 on Pogrebin’s blog, and Rabbi John Rosove’s review for the Jewish Journal. 

Letha Dawson Scanzoni
Letha Dawson Scanzoni (1935-2024) was an independent scholar, writer, and editor, and the author or coauthor of nine books. In 1978, she and Virginia Ramey Mollenkott wrote Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, one of the earliest books urging evangelical Christians to rethink their views on homosexuality (updated edition, 1994, HarperOne). More recently, Letha coauthored (with social psychologist David G. Myers) What God Has Joined Together: The Christian Case for Gay Marriage (HarperOne, 2005 and 2006). Another of Letha’s most well-known books is All We’re Meant to Be: Biblical Feminism for Today, coauthored with Nancy A. Hardesty (Word Books, 1974; revised edition, Abingdon, 1986; updated and expanded edition, Eerdmans, 1992). Letha served as editor of Christian Feminism Today in both its former print edition (EEWC Update) and its website for 19 years until her retirement in December 2013.


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