Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

What you should & shouldn’t say to someone with a broken bone July 2, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , ,

Just days after open reduction internal fixation wrist surgery, the swelling in my fingers is diminishing.


I PONDERED WHETHER I should pen this post because many kind words have been extended to me since my fall and subsequent surgery on my broken left arm. Thank you.

But many other words have also been offered that don’t help me or my situation. So if I come across as a tad cranky in this post, it’s because I am. My humor, tolerance and Minnesota Nice only stretch so far.

Following is a short list of comments which I’ve heard and which you should not make to someone with a broken bone. I’ll follow that with a list of ways to encourage and help. We can all learn from one another, right?

Here goes.

DO NOT call me a klutz. I’m not. My fall on rain-slicked wooden steps was an accident. Simple as that.

DO NOT state or suggest (while laughing or not laughing)) that my husband pushed me. He didn’t. There’s nothing funny about domestic violence. I won’t dwell. Click here to read an earlier post on that topic.

DO NOT tell me I broke my arm because I don’t drink enough milk or eat enough cheese, yogurt or other dairy products. That’s like telling a cancer patient she ate too many red Popsicles or a heart attack victim that he didn’t eat enough oatmeal. Not helpful.

I defy anyone who fell as I did not to break a bone. A friend who worked as an ER nurse tells me broken arms are common in falls as we instinctively try to break a fall with our hands. My doctor noted in my records, in layman’s language, that the fall caused my arm bone to break. Not a lack of consuming enough dairy.

So what should you say? Here’s what I’ve found helpful: A simple “I’m sorry” works. Or, “How are you feeling?” Or something similar. There is no fault-finding, no accusations, no name-calling. Simply kindness.

Get well cards and encouraging emails/texts/calls also go a long ways in uplifting. Ask how the person is doing. And, please, don’t deflect the conversation to a lengthy story about your (or a family member’s) broken bone experience. I’m not selfish. But are we talking about you or me here?

Additionally, I really appreciated the meals my niece Amber prepared for us. I need to remember that myself and reach out to others with food in their times of need. Cookies baked by my 24-year-old son and his girlfriend and shipped from Boston likewise fed my body and soul. As did flowers from Randy and a thoughtful gift sent by a friend in North Carolina.

Everything I’ve written here is pretty common sense. Sometimes we just need to pause and think before blurting out words that aren’t at all helpful.


© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “What you should & shouldn’t say to someone with a broken bone”

  1. This goes for a lot of things!! Cookies, flowers, thoughtful gifts….. love those, but yes, a simple, “I’m sorry.” or “How are you feeling?”, goes a long way. I’m glad to read you’re on the mend.

  2. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    Wishing you a speedy recovery and lots of indulgences to compensate.

  3. Murphy's Law Says:

    People often get tongue tied when they feel pressure to say “something”. “I’m so sorry”, “Hope you’re feeling better” or “Is there anything I can help you with?” would work very nicely.

    Keep it simple. Keep it sincere. Accidents happen. A bone will break when you fall down rain-slicked steps…..no matter how much dairy you eat!

    Once again, I hope you’re healing according to schedule and that the worst of the pain is behind you. You are on my prayer list!!!
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

  4. estremdj Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of your injury!
    Hope you will have a healthy recovery.

  5. Judy M Says:

    Good to read your post this morning. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

  6. Here is a Kindness Poem for Today.

    Use your voice for kindness.
    Use your ears for compassion.
    Use your hands for charity.
    Use your mind for truth.
    Use your heart for love.

    (((((((loveandhugs))) Take Care My Friend 🙂

  7. Jackie Says:

    This was a good post Audrey, a good reminder of what to say to those who are suffering. I’ve always appreciated a simple, “I’m so sorry”, and yes….. I am so sorry, it’s no fun to be laid up, and hurting, ever!
    P.S. I agree with that ER Nurse ( wink wink)

  8. Beth Ann Says:

    Keep smiling and hopefully those nice treats and words will keep coming.

  9. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    “Sometimes we just need to pause and think before blurting out words that aren’t at all helpful.” That right there should be the 11th commandment

  10. Bella Says:

    kudos to you to speak brave words-pay attention people!

  11. ~~~~~Audrey,
    sometimes people just need education, which you give them on your blog.
    It is appreciated by all of us.
    …Because once they know & are educated about such things….THEY WILL DO BETTER, Change the way society thinks.
    I would def. ask a woman ( and Have asked ) if she is safe.
    It is MY business.
    Thank you for utilizing this platform in a lifechanging way. xxx

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