(Exactly) What to Say to Someone After Surgery

Whether someone you love has just had surgery or you’re writing out a card and wondering what to say to someone after surgery, this helpful guide will make sure you’re saying supportive and encouraging things.

It can be hard to know what to say to people in all different situations, like what to say to someone who is having a bad day, but the basic idea is that if you say it with compassion and keep their well-being the main focus, you can’t go too wrong!

Don’t forget to check out what to say to someone before surgery as well as what to say to someone in a hospital.

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1. Tell Them What You Will Be Doing to Help them Recover

One of the biggest pitfalls people make when figuring out what to say to someone after surgery is by just telling them a blanket “let me know if you need anything” if you are close enough with them to know what they might need help with.

It’s far better to actually put a plan into motion to help them by figuring out what they need and then just doing it.

For instance, being able to say “Hi friend! I’m so glad your surgery went well. I’ve set up a meal train to keep meals coming to your house for dinner every night for the next month and I have arranged with other friends to take the kids to school every morning this week. Love you!”

This takes away the need for the person who is recovering from surgery to have to think about these things and doesn’t put the burden on them to ask you to help, as many people don’t like asking for it.

Obviously you don’t want to intrude or overstep so make sure you know the person well enough or liaise with someone who is in charge of helping them through their recovery like a parent or partner to see what you can do, but don’t just ask – tell them what you’re doing to help!

2. Send General Well Wishes for a Quick Recovery

There are sometimes when the person having surgery isn’t someone you know well enough to offer much more than general well wishes, and that’s absolutely fine.

If you’re ever unsure what to say to someone after surgery, you can always stick to the basics with a “Thinking of you and wishing you a speedy recovery!”

Sure, it’s basic, but it shows you’re thinking of them or at least have taken those few seconds to write the note thinking about them and it all adds up.

3. If You Know Recovery Isn’t Possible, Tell Them They’re In Your Thoughts

Sometimes, people have surgery for a problem that they might not be making a full recovery from.

If someone is in a situation like that, I would tend to stick to the “Thinking of you” kind of note that expresses good thoughts for them without wishing them a “speedy recovery” that might not be possible or remind them of the recovery that isn’t possible.

Again, this is where you could step in with a “Thinking of you and I’m going to do XYZ” to tell them how you will be helping them and take their mind off some tasks in their life.

4. Tell Them That You Are Available to Help in Whatever Ways

If you don’t know the person well enough to decide what they will need and then step in for them, it’s still better to tell them the ways you can help instead of just saying, “let me know if you need anything.”

For instance, you could say to someone after surgery, “So glad it went well! We’re all thinking of you. I would love to pick up the kids from school until you’re ready to get back to it, just let me know if that’s okay” or “I would be happy to make dinners for you for the next few weeks, just let me know what kind of food you like!”

This gives them the chance to politely decline your offer without you having already set up these things, but also tells them specifically what you can do to help if they need it.

5. Send Them Something Silly to Watch or Keep Their Mind Off Of Things

Someone who has just had surgery would benefit from good wishes, but more than that, sometimes people want things to keep their mind off of being in a hospital or stuck at home.

If you have shared love of books, TV shows or other silly things you’ve seen online, send those to them as well to cheer them up and get them thinking about something else.

6. Add an Update about You or People They Love

Again, you need to take the specific person into account, but a lot of people would love an update on you or other people they love after you wish them well.

So in your letter, you could start with good wishes to them and offering to help and then just offer some basic updates like, “Olivia is still loving gymnastics and can’t wait to show you her new flips and Tom is studying for his finals so we don’t see much of him.”

Just something short to get them out of their own mind and into the environment that’s happening outside the hospital walls and, if appropriate, what you look forward to doing with them when they are recovered or who is excited to see them.

7. Encourage Them to Take it Easy and Be Kind to Themselves

There can be such an empahsis on wishing people a “speedy recovery” because no one is going to wish you a slow recovery, but sometimes people need to also be encouraged to take it easy and given permission to take all of the time they need.

This is particularly good if you are a boss sending a note of well wishes to your employee, to remind them that they should put their health first and that they should take the time they need to fully recover.

What to Say in Other Situations

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