“Miserable comforters are you all,” said Job to his friends, and sometimes we are too. When visiting the sick we must guard our tongues. Many patients have had to endure well meaning visitors describing horrible tragedies of people who have had the same procedure as the patient, died after undergoing the same treatment, or died through neglect of the hospital. We should not compare medical war stories. We may make a patient fearful and even impede their recovery by our “comforting words.”
When we visit the sick we should make our visits brief and speak softly. We should not overwhelm the patient with many visitors at once, but wait if there are several others already in the room. If there are other sick people in the room, we should be considerate of them. We should listen to the patient and offer words of comfort. We must not depress them.
One doctor noted that we “should not reveal negative emotional reactions through voice, countenance or manner. The patient may want to show his wound or a bottle of gallstones. Sometimes the patient may be in a pitiful condition, or the odor in the room may be so disagreeable as to make the visit an unpleasant task. Remember that the patient, if conscious, is humiliated about his own condition and aware of the burden he is placing on others” (from Wayne Emmons).