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Surgery is an emotional time for everyone, not just the patient. Sometimes these emotions can make what we want to say quite difficult and instead of declaring your love and support eloquently, it becomes a sort of heartfelt rambling. Here’s some tips on what to do and what to say when a loved one is going in for surgery.

Offer the help you can actually provide.

It is very kind to offer help to someone in their time of need but when it’s not followed through with actions then it can end up doing more harm than good. A simple gesture like reassuring words or a card is often enough. And when you do offer help, follow through with your words.

If possible, when they return home, make them a meal, offer to do some house chores, ask if they need any errands run. Offering help doesn’t have to be just the first return home. Those first three months after amputation are the hardest.

Ground yourself in their perspective.

When an individual is preparing for surgery or recovering from surgery, those around them develop their own meanings and perceptions of the condition. It’s important to avoid making assumptions and stay grounded by asking them how they feel and what they’re experiencing.


Sometimes the person just wants you to listen and if they want to talk, listen. Sometimes it’s best to not say anything but simply be there to show your support. Simply, “I am here for you” may everything they want to hear from you.

Listening is the best thing you could do. There is no need to mention the loss as they know they lost it. They do not need to be reminded of that fact. Let them talk it out, call the Amputee Coalition and ask for a Peer Visit if they have not had one already. Let them talk to another amputee like themselves that has been through it and can answer their questions.