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Helping a Sick Friend

I read a piece in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter that I found helpful and thought I would share some of their suggestions in hopes that you may find them useful one day.

Connect regularly.  Send frequent, short notes, text messages or perhaps make short phone calls at times you know to be good for the friend.  

Visit but with limits.  Personal visits can offer a welcome distraction and provide a sense of normalcy.  Call ahead to make sure it is a good time and don’t overdo it.  Be mindful of their energy level.  

Being a good listener is perhaps the best way to support your friend.   Focus on their interests and what they want to talk about.  Ask for their opinions or advice.  Find topics that bring up positive emotions or feelings.  Resist the urge to change the subject if the conversation turns negative.   It is hard but at times like this, your opinions or thoughts may be best left unsaid and above all don’t give medical advice.

Make your offer clear.  Asking how you can help may seem thoughtful, but it puts the burden on the sick friend to think of something.  Offer a specific task at a certain time.  As an example, ask if you can bring dinner on Thursday, pick up some items at the grocery store, or transport them to their next doctor’s appointment?  Then the friend can accept or decline.  

Don’t be offended if your offer is declined.  Often people want to maintain their pride and sense of independence.  But don’t forget to ask again later without being pushy.  

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