One of the realities of having a child with a chronic illness or disability is that a great deal of time may be spent in the hospital. As a friend, you may be unsure of what you can do to help. Do you stop by? Do they prefer privacy? It can be tough sitting by feeling like you’re doing nothing when a friend is in need and you want to do something.
Educate Yourself: Find out the specific name of diseases, conditions, testing, or procedures that your friend’s child is dealing with, then do some research. Familiarize yourself with their condition so you have a better understanding of what they’re going through. It’s okay if you don’t understand everything; if you have questions, ask! Show that you are truly interested and concerned.
Stay in Touch: A quick email, phone call, or text message can make a big difference. You don’t have to take up a lot of their time, but just take a few minutes to show you care and you’re thinking about them. It’s easy for them to get overwhelmed with hospital life, so help them feel more connected and supported. A kind word or thought can go a long way.
Get Involved: Find out how you can help. Offer to do some cleaning around their home so they have less to worry about when they come home. Mow their lawn or do yardwork to keep things looking nice in their absence. Prepare some meals they can freeze or that you can take to the hospital, along with healthy snacks. You could also offer to watch their other children for a while to give them a break and let their kids get out and play.
Be Respectful: Chances are, you have little experience dealing with what they’re going through, and that’s okay. Respect that it is a difficult time for them and don’t try to downplay the situation with sayings like “everything happens for a reason,” or “everything works out as it should.” Avoid sharing the details of your fun weekend at the shore or night at the theater when they can’t do such things. Instead, offer to do something together either at the hospital or nearby if their child is doing well.
Listen: Sometimes one of the best things you can do is listen. Your friend isn’t always looking for answers – they’ve got a medical team for that – but rather just someone they can talk to. Ask about their child, but also don’t forget to ask about them and how they’re doing. You may not feel like you’re doing much, but it can mean a lot to your friend and their family.
Let your friend know that their family is on your mind and you’re sending positive thoughts. They need all of the support and warm wishes they can get. If you’re interested in other ways that you can help your friend and other families in need, contact Lake Wylie Children’s Charity. We’re always looking for volunteers, fundraising opportunities, in-kind donations, resources, and more so that we can continue to support local families and their children.