Empathy cards for cancer patients help say the words you can't find

May 6, 2015 at 6:46 p.m. ET
Image: Emilly McDowell Studio

When something awful happens to people we love sometimes it's just impossible to find the right words to tell them how you feel.

Like when they're diagnosed with a serious illness. We know there's something we should say, but so often instead, we look at our shoes, shuffle off and keep a safe distance from the sadness.

The worst part is that when someone gets a terrible diagnosis, that's probably the single moment in their lives they need you the most. But what are you supposed to say? Now there's a line of greeting cards so beautifully poignant and true, they make it easy to put words to what you're feeling.

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Image: Emily McDowell Studio

Luckily, you can tap into the wicked-smart brain of Emily McDowell, an artist, writer, illustrator and cancer survivor who knows exactly the right thing to say when someone you love is thrown into the midst of a health crisis. She's created a line of "Empathy Cards" which, as the tagline explains, offer "Support for Serious Illness." These aren't just your run-of-the-mill "hang in there, baby" messages.

More: This mom is living with a terminal illness

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Image: Emily McDowell Studio

"It's a really tough problem; someone we love needs our support more than ever, but we don't have the right language for it," Emily writes on her website. "With Empathy Cards, my goal is to help people connect with each other through truth and insight, which is one of the founding principles of this brand. I want the recipients of these cards to feel seen, understood and loved."

More: 12 Things to never say to someone with breast cancer

Remember, our loved ones might be sick, but they're still themselves.

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Image: Emily McDowell Studio

And when you're fighting cancer, one more chemo down is a huge accomplishment worth celebrating — however you can.

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Image: Emily McDowell Studio

She's even got a card for when there really isn't anything to say but "I'm so sorry."

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Image: Emily McDowell Studio

So the next time someone you love is facing an illness and you just can't find the right words to say, check out one of Emily McDowell's empathy cards. Chances are she'll be able to help.

"I think Empathy Cards are the most important things I've designed so far, and they're some of my personal favorites," McDowell says. "It's not often that you look at a greeting card and think, 'The world needs this,' but in this case, I really believe that's true."

We agree.

More: 3 Women write powerful letters to their breast cancer

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