Knowing what to say to someone suffering from a serious illness isn’t always easy.
Card companies do their best to try to find the perfect words, but according to Emily McDowell, those cards don’t always keep it real.
That’s why she created Empathy Cards, with messages that are honest, compassionate, and even quite funny.
“I hope these cards can help people with cancer feel loved, heard, and understood,” McDowell, who is an illustrator, told Good News Network. “If they can help open the door to real, heartfelt exchanges, they’re a success in my book
McDowell, who was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 24, said that the most difficult part of her illness, wasn’t losing her hair or sickness from chemo, but the loneliness and isolation she felt when many of her close friends and family members disappeared because they didn’t know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it.
“Sympathy cards can make people feel like you think they’re already dead, and I never personally connected with jokes about being bald or getting a free boob job, which is what most cancer cards focus on,” McDowell said. “I believe we need some better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering.”
Above all, she wants to connect people through truth and insight, and for the recipients of these cards to feel seen, understood, and loved.