(Exactly) What to Say to Someone Before Surgery

Having surgery can be a scary time in someone’s life, and knowing what to say to someone before surgery can feel intimidating, whether you’re the person having surgery or you’re talking to the person having surgery.

This guide will go over some examples of things to say to someone before surgery that will help you navigate this period in life when someone is in the hospital with ease and not trip up and say the wrong things (facts about the survival rates are not helpful, here!).

You can make jokes, even darker ones if you know that the person shares your sense of humor, but be very aware of their mood and their demeanor when you see them, as sometimes even those of us who would laugh at a bit of gallows humor ordinarily could not appreciate it so much in the moment.

These things to say to someone before surgery can apply whether you’re writing a card to someone before surgery or saying these words out loud.

If it’s possible, do try to call or see someone in-person before they go in for surgery, as that human connection can be really comforting even if they’re someone who acts like surgery is a breeze.

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Tell Them How Much They Mean to You and How Much You Love Them

Whether you’re the person having surgery or talking to the person having surgery, it’s always nice to just keep up the positive things and take the moment to tell each other how much you love them or quotes about how much they mean to you.

It’s not to say that you think something will happen in surgery, but rather so everyone can go into the surgery with the warm feelings of being reminded of those bonds they share.

It’s a natural thing to talk about your positive feelings for the other in these moments when life gets especially stressful.

Talk About What You Plan to Do with Them After Surgery

Get the person having surgery thinking about what comes after the surgery once they are back on their feet.

Talk about how you’ll go to their favorite restaurant, or you can’t wait to bring them their favorite meal while they’re recovering or how you’re looking forward to the trip you have planned for a few months from now.

Keep their mind on the “after,” on the recovery, on staying positive even when things go wrong and the fact that they will pull through this and enjoy much brighter days ahead.

Be sensitive, of course, to some surgeries where the person might be in a bit more of a dire situation and perhaps you want to tone down the excitement for post-surgery and instead just focus on how much you love them.

Remind Them That You’ll Be in the Waiting Room or in Close Proximity

If you’re going to be at the hospital during the surgery, remind the person having surgery before surgery where you will be so they can mentally place you and know that people are nearby.

They might not be awake during the surgery to remember where you are, but they’ll still be able to “feel” it and remind themselves of it as soon as they wake up, if you’re not allowed to be in the hospital room yet.

It makes you feel less alone to know that people are in the same building, even if it’s in the waiting room, while you’re in surgery.

Basic Get Well Soon Wishes

If you don’t know the person well or just want to keep it brief, basic get well soon wishes are perfectly acceptable to say to someone before sugery.

A short message like, “you’re going to do awesome” or “get well soon! You’ve got this” will go a long way towards calming someone’s nerves and filling them with positive energy before their surgery.

This is nice if you need to write in a card that’s being given to someone before surgery as well, as you can keep it brief while still being positive.

The more get well soon wishes you can collect from friends, coworkers, and family in the card, the better!

Give Them Positive Thoughts About the Experience of Their Doctors

The experience of their doctors and surgeons is paramount to a successful surgery, so if you have been involved in the medical process and know about the expertise of their doctors, remind them of it.

“You’re going to do great! And in such good hands, Dr. Mena is the top surgeon for elbows in the whole state.”

You don’t need to get obsessive about it or try to make it sound like you’re reassuring the patient or instilling more fear in them, but a short positive comment about how impressed you are with the doctor’s experience is helpful.

Make a Lighthearted Joke

If you know the patient well enough, making a lighthearted joke before surgery can help to ease the tension.

“Hey, I look forward to finally beating you in basketball for a few weeks, though someone you’ll probably still find a way to win!” or “Your doctor is so dreamy! This is like being on the set of Grey’s Anatomy!”

Say something to make them laugh to brighten their spirits and take their focus off of the surgery and they’ll appreciate that brief ability to turn their thoughts elsewhere.

Tell Them What You’re Going to Do to Help After

Part of the fear of some people for surgery is actually the recovery period and what they will or won’t be able to do.

If it’s a close friend or family member, telling them all of the things that they won’t need to worry about can be a huge mental relief.

Tell them that you’ve organized a meal train so they’ve got dinners being delivered to them for a month or tell them that you’ve worked it out with their husband so you’re going to take on some childcare duties and let the kids come play at your house after school while they rest.

Whatever you can forsee that they’ll need help with, let them know what you’re taking off their plate so they can focus on themselves and recovery.

What to Say in Other Situations

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