Q: I recently bumped into a neighbor who has been ill for the past year. Her appearance was dramatically different, and she had lost a considerable amount of weight. I didn't say anything about it and wondered afterward if I had done the right thing.

A: "If she looked better than she used to, it would have been kind to say so. If she looked worse, it was kind not to. And if you were in doubt, saying nothing was a good call."
Jack Marshall, president, ProEthics

"I do think it's insensitive not to acknowledge someone's illness. But there's no need to call attention to their outwardly changed appearance. You might have said, 'I heard you'd been ill; it's so nice to see you here tonight.'"
Anita L. Allen, professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School


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