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Do you have a neighbor who has been rushed to the hospital? Or one who has just been moved to a care facility? Or do you, perhaps, have one who has become confined to their bed? Are you wanting to help but don’t know how or what to do? Welcome to my world! Been there, done that more than once. Even with experience under the belt, it’s still never easy! And that’s OK. Little in life is easy. But that being said, there are some basic things that seem to be true in most if not all cases and here are some I’ve discovered:
1. Pray – and keep praying! Once the first three days are over, it’s easy for our own lives to take over and cause us to forget this vital step. If you need help remembering, use an erasable marker to write a reminder to yourself on the bathroom mirror to remind yourself to pray for them every morning when you get ready to face the day.
2. Be available whenever they have a moment – Their family members are going through a stressful, scary, exhausting series of events. They may be catnapping at odd times, if they are even at home. I watch for when they are out and about, then pop over and say a quick Hi. I’m careful to say, “I don’t want to keep you if you can’t talk right now, but I want you to know I’m here if you need me. Can I do anything for you?” I’ve found they often DO want to talk and will, but if they can’t, that’s ok too. Then I just give a quick hug and leave.
3. Offer more than once and get more specific on your offers. When I’ve gone through what they are going through (and I’ve done that more than once as well!), I found that people would offer and I would say no because I didn’t want to bother anyone. But when people would keep offering, or say something like, “What can I bring you from the grocery store?” I would be more likely to say “OK.” I think part of it is that we are using up so much emotional energy when we deal with that situation, we just can’t handle more decisions. But when the offerer is there, and giving me the ideas, so I don’t have to think about it, that is easy and that helps me a lot!
4. If they are at home, taking over a meal once or twice a week can be a big help. I would talk to them about it in advance to find out about dietary needs and to work around others who might be doing the same thing. Once when I broke my leg badly, we were blessed by offers from both a Bible study group and a school group. We were really grateful for the offers and for the heads up.
5. For patients who are in bed for a long period of time but able to read, write, etc., I have made care packages to encourage them. One package I made included a crossword puzzle book, a couple of pens and pencils, a rubik’s cube, and a book.
6. If you make a care package, you might want to include a goodie or two for the patient’s immediate family. They are in crisis too! A book for the wife while she sits by her husband’s hospital bed (or vice versa) can be a tremendous blessing. A greeting card made out to both of them, or better yet, a card for each of them will give them each a wonderful lift for the moment. A game for the children will give them a fun time and some peace and quiet to the parent.
Well, that’s just six of many other ideas. Let’s put our heads together and get creative. What would you suggest in this kind of situation?