My Friend Has a Chronic Illness

A former client recently called me about a friend of hers who was struggling with a serious chronic illness, and she didn’t know how to help her.

Have you been in a similar situation and felt clueless?

Here are a few tips:

  • Listen to them. Comfort comes not from what you say or don’t say but from simply hearing what they tell you.
  • Knowing that you can’t fix them or make it better is important as well. Your presence makes it better.
  • Offering to do errands usually isn’t that helpful either, because asking and accepting help from others is hard. Instead, show up to clean their house or call from a deli and ask them what kind of sandwich they want. Call them from the grocery and ask for a list. They may be too fatigued for your company, but they may be grateful for the sandwich and the fact that you thought of them.
  • Asking them to lunch may not be the best idea either, but calling to say I’m coming by today at 1:00 to get you for lunch might work. I’m coming by with a milkshake. I’m coming by to give you a hug. I’m bringing cookies. I’m bringing you flowers. Leave them at the door and send a text so she can go to the door at her convenience. Call with plenty of notice. If they know you’re taking their kids to a movie for the afternoon, they will be able to plan some rest time.
  • Send cards. Send emails. Send Facebook messages. Use the telephone and call them! Try Facetime or Skype. Let them hear your voice and/or see your face.

What you give them is yourself, so simply taking them for a ride can be a huge gift. Park outside a coffee shop or take your coffee to the park and just sit in the car to visit with them.
If you are not comfortable around wheelchairs or walkers or oxygen tanks, ask your friend to show you how to get them in/out of your car safely. They will be more than glad to teach you.

The goal is just to be there. Hold space with them. Hold time. Hold their pain. Hold their frustration. Hold their grief. Hold their love.

Be you. Be a friend. BE THERE!