Letter-Writing: Get Well Soon Cards

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Getting mail is a ton of fun, but in an increasingly digital world, writing it can sometimes be hard. This blog post series about Letter Writing aims to make it easier. 

Everyone knows what it feels like to be sick, and everyone knows what a difference it can make to know you are missed, you are loved, you are thought of. That is why writing Get Well Cards can be so powerful to communicating your friendship and love to people during hard times. Get Well Cards can be tricky though because you will send them to all sorts of different people who are  experiencing  all sorts of different issues. Some might be close friends; others co-workers you only nod to as you walk down the hall. Some might be down with a cold, others are diagnosed with terminal diseases. But the one thing that all the situations will have in common is how  appreciated  your mail will be. 

03-22-11 - Step 4 - Exhaustion B&W
photo via Lynda Giddens

When picking out a Get Well Card, make sure you consider the circumstances of the person who is ill, and how well you know them. In fact, calling them "Get Well" cards might be a bit of a misnomer; avoid sending cards that say things like "Feel Better" or " Get Well" to people who are terminally sick, facing permanent life changes, or who are in for a long recovery. They are not going to necessarily get well or feel better- at least not anytime soon- and such reminders can be depressing  Cards that say "Thinking of you" or blank cards might be better alternatives Funny, and cheerful cards are usually also a safe bet; laughter is the best medicine, so the say.  

Once you have picked out a card, don't forget to write a handwritten note in pen, even in addition to anything the card says. how long or short such a message is will depend on the relationship you have to the person you are writing too. No matter what though, your personal thoughts, even if only a line or two, will add more meaning. If the person you are writing to is someone you only casually know, such as a co-worker, ask around to find out about that person and their circumstances. This way you can avoid a faux pas in your message. If it is someone you do know more intimately, just remember even if they are sick, they are still themselves; treat them like you always do.  Sometimes that is easier said than done; people often feel as if they don't know what to say. If that's the case, say just that- "I don't know what to say." 

Some other tips on what to write (or not write): Just like when you are picking out a card, avoid saying "get well" to those who won't be getting better. Instead, a more vague, but still heartfelt sentiment such as "Hope you are having a good day" or " You are in our thoughts" might be more appropriate. Don't mention the illness or injury if you have not been told the details by the card recipient or their family, even if you've been told by others. This helps to maintain some privacy. Likewise, unless you are very  familiar  with the person's religious background and know such sentiments would be welcome by them, avoid mentions of religions, even phrases like "You are in our prayers." Feel free instead to share a joke, or a story or even- if it is a longer letter and you know the person well- some news they might be interested in. It can be lonely and boring being sick, so they might appreciate the entertainment. However, be very aware of not be self-indulgent. This is not your moment to shine; it is about helping someone who is not well. Don't talk about your own (or really anyone else's) medical ordeals. Keep things light and upbeat. When closing, you may wish to choose a warmer  benediction  such as "Your friend," " thinking of you," or "love" before signing your name. 

Get Well Cards can often be accompanied by other things, though they do not have to be. For those in sickbeds, flowers or small gifts can be very cheering, if you are in a position to give such things. Just  discreetly  check that they are in a position to accept things such as flowers or food first. There maybe allergies, or the  recipient  may be hospitalized somewhere that does not allow those items. Offers of help can also be appreciated  Try to make offers specific. If someone just writes "let me know if there is anything I can do," people are sometimes too shy to reach out and actually ask. Instead concrete offers- such as watching children or cooking a meal- might be appreciated more, but only offer if you are truly able to come through on any promises made. Do not be hurt if the offer is not accepted, nor, if it is a long  convalescence , to offer again.

Lastly, do not be offended if you receive no reply. If you would like updates, see if a caregiver or family member might share information. 

No matter what your Get Well Card looks like though, it is sure to brighten somebody's day. 

Looking for more tips on writing Get Well Cards ? Try these articles:


  1. I loved your idea of offering up something concrete for the person and how it isn't about you, it's about the person suffering the illness. My husband should read this : )

    Great article.


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    1. I see that same advice a lot for people who have lost someone too, and think it makes a lot of sense. Of course, I think the help can also be offered (by other people, not the sick person) to help relieve the primary caregiver a bit too.

      Hope you are having a good day today and gaining strength back! <3

  2. Get well cards can be tricky, but your advice is great!

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  3. You always cover the most interesting topics Kristian! I absolutely love love love snail mail. I have to say I send the least amount of "Get Well" cards, but these are great things to keep in mind! I'm excited to check out your other writing tips!

    perfectly priya

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  4. My last two "get well soon" cards were of the not-getting-well ever variety, very hard to write. These are wonderful tips.
    My friend who organized some cards for another friend also found out where they like to eat so we could send them restaurant gift cards.

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