Wednesday, August 20, 2008

10 Things

Someday I'll write a book about caregiving, and how to support caregivers, or people who are going through a tough time. Everyone knows someone who is going through a difficult time--what can you do to help? Here are some things people have done for us that have been truly helpful:

Always at the top of the list--pray for them. Second is do something--something that you are uniquely gifted to do, that you enjoy doing, and that you will faithfully do. Tell your friend, "I'd like to do thus and such on these dates at this time. Would that help you?"
1. Write a snail mail card.
My friend, K, writes me the best cards and letters at just the right times. She did when Bill was sick, and she continues now with Annie's illness. These messages are God's love and strength to me.
2. Here's a green idea: give cash.
We had many friends who gave us lots of money in those first few weeks after Annie got sick. One couple, who had had a son in the hospital and who knew how expensive it was to live and commute there, gave us $300 cash--at frequent intervals.
3. Take care of the other kids.
If your caregiving friend has kids, take the kids to their soccer practice, music lessons, or wherever they need to go. Take the kids to a movie. Take the kids on vacation with you. Your friend has no mental or physical energy to take care of the kids who are well--you jump in and help.
4. Food is good.
Drop off food that can be frozen or is ready to eat. Don't stay to chat for more than 5 minutes. Your friend needs food, and peace and quiet.
5. Mow their yard, weed their garden. This is my personal favorite. People did this when Bill was sick, and recently, while Annie's been sick. When I see my yard in order, I am deluded into thinking that the rest of my life is in order too.
6. Clean their house, or part of it. I have a dear friend who STILL comes over and cleans my bathrooms once a week. She is someone with a very busy life, and bad knees. But what a faithful friend. Clean bathrooms are almost heaven--especially around here.
7. Organize help. If you're the motivator-organizer type, and you see what needs to be done for your friend, you make the calls and get people moving. I had a great friend like this when Bill was sick--she never took no for an answer from anyone--and I have a friend like this now. She checks in on us every once in a while to see if anything needs to happen.
8. Send flowers.
Or plants, or lattes. Little expressions of love always come at the right times. I had a friend when Bill was sick who brought me flowers about once a month. I loved it! Now I have a friend who caters to my caffeine addictions.
9. Support their marriage.
When Bill was sick (and could still travel) we had people who gave us weekends away now and then. Now, I have older & wonderful kids who can babysit Annie while Bill & I go on date nights. Remember that critical illness plays havoc with marriages. Give your friend a respite from the crisis they're enduring.
10. Pray more. Ask God to give you ideas on what you can do for your friend. You have unique abilities that allow you to do exactly what your friend needs today.

That's my list. I'm sure you guys have some ideas, too, of things that people have done to help you. Post your ideas so I can add them to this book I'm about to write... tomorrow.



Anonymous said...

Jean-this is a perfect list. I'm going to copy it to my own blog.

Gretchen said...


Teena's exactly right. This is perfect. Sandwiched in prayer are some really practical tips and I think the only thing I might add is that it's important to keep checking in with the person. Even if the child or adult is out of the hospital, there are few Lifetime For TV movie endings. Sometimes the disease process or rehabilitation takes more than the 6 week attention span that most of us have. Similar to grief, I think (and a times, filled with a type of grief)--people still hurt and have to deal with life after the bulk of the phone calls, emails, and financial help has ceased coming in.

Thank you for this reminder, my friend. xxxooogretchen

Annie Sullivan said...

Thanks, Teena--and add your own 2 cents to that list too.

And, yes, Gretchen, checking in with people over time is so important. I've got a couple I need to follow up with soon.