** Due to the increasing severity of MY ILLNESS, it has become impossible for me to continue to post on a regular basis. Unfortunately, as much as I desperately long to, I am also unable to visit each of your blogs often or reciprocate all the loving, supportive comments many of you continue to leave - even though at times it may appear as though you've arrived at some long ago, forsaken blog! With that said, I really want you to know that I miss every single one of you and that I really am still here! I'm just too sick and too weak most days to be able to sit up long enough to create a brand new post...or even read one. However, I absolutely do receive AND read every new encouraging word you leave (and, often, the old ones, again and again!) and I cherish them now more than ever! I truly appreciate your love, support, and, most importantly, your precious time spent on your knees in prayer for my family and me. It ALL means the world to me and I am truly blessed to have friends like you!
~Hugs and Sister Love, Teresa

FYI: All comments come to my email, which I can easily read on my phone. I also enjoy Facebook on my phone because I can catch up on A LOT in a very short time there. Soooo, if you're on Facebook, come 'friend' me there! {{HUGS}} **

Thursday, February 11, 2010

50 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE A CHRONICALLY ILL FRIEND

I recently saw this article on the REST MINISTRIES website. I thought it was really neat and would be very helpful for those who have a close friend or family member who is chronically ill.

Being sick, homebound and bedridden has made me feel increasing isolated and lonely. Most of the time, I just don't feel up to having visitors but yet I still feel lonely. It's kind of hard to explain, but I'm sure there are others out there who are experiencing these same feelings.

Since I became sick, I have slowly lost contact with most of my 'real life' friends. All of my closest friends know how much I dislike talking on the phone. (That has been the case long before I became so sick.) I think that, coupled with the fact that they know how extremely sick I've been, has caused most of them to fade into the background.

Occasionally, I will get an email or my husband will get a phone call from one of our friends saying they really want to come visit and/or help in some way but they just haven't known what to do. When that happens, it is usually difficult to think of something to say or to be open and admit that there IS something we need.

I'm sure we are not alone, so I thought I would share this really great list I found with you. I think it might be helpful for those of you who have a loved one who is ill and you have been searching for some way to show them you care and would like to help.

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Lois Wyse once said, 'A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.'

Little ways of reaching out make all of the difference to someone who is hurting, especially when the illness is chronic. It's rarely the "size" of the task, but the simple fact that you made an effort and remembered him or her in your thoughts.

Here are 50 creative ways to encourage a chronically ill friend, excerpted from 'Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend' by Lisa Copen.

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1. Ask, "What events in your life are changing and how are you coping with the changes?"

2. Understand that she lives in a constant state of making decisions for which there is no guarantee that she is making the right choice.

3. Offer to bring meals and put them in disposable containers. Attach a note saying "This doesn't need to be returned."

4. Add stickers to envelopes for a cheerful touch.

5. Arrange for your friend's kids to have a night with your children.

6. Don't make a person into a project.

7. Ask, "Would you be willing to talk to a friend of mine who has recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness and offer her some encouragement?" It makes one feel good to know that her experience can offer someone else hope and that God still has a purpose for her life.

8. Wash his car and put a little note inside for him to find later.

9. Remember important anniversaries, both the good and the bad. No one else will.

10. Ask, "Do you want company the day that you wait for the test results? I could come over for a couple of hours."

11. "No matter how little you have, you can always give some of it away." ~ Catherine Marshall. Just listen . . . until it hurts to not say anything. And then listen some more.

12. Ask her, "How do you feel God is working through-or despite-this illness in your life? I'm interested."

13. Ask, "What do you wish people understood about your illness?"

14. Don't make her feel guilty about things that she cannot do.

15. Treat her to a gift of movie rentals via postal mail through a service ($7-15 a month).

16. Ask, "Would you be comfortable with having your name on a prayer list, so that others can pray for you?" Don't assume.

17. Instead of saying, "I will pray for you," say, "I'd like to pray for you right now, if that's okay."

18. Mop the floors.

19. Ask if she would be interested in writing something for the church newsletter, maybe even about the subject of living with chronic illness.

20. Buy a brightly colored umbrella as a gift.

21. Ask, "Do you have an errand I can run for you before coming over?"

22. Ask her to do spontaneous things, like go to a concert in the park, or just for a picnic. She may be more likely to participate since she knows if it's a good day or a bad day. Don't be upset if she has to say no.

23. Don't say, "So, why aren't you healed yet?" or "I wonder what God is trying to teach you that you just aren't learning!"

24. For a unique gift, provide brightly colored paper plates, napkins, and utensils in a gift bag with a note that says "For when you don't feel like doing dishes."

25. Get her a pretty box to keep all of her notes of encouragement. Remind her to get it out and read things when she is feeling down.

26. Be her advocate. If you are at an event and walking/seating is an issue because of her disability, ask her if she'd like you to take care of it. If she says you can, be firm but not rude. Don't embarrass her by making accusations of discrimination or by making a scene.

27. Ask, "Would you be interested in a prayer partner from our church?"

28. Purchase matching coffee mugs for you and your friend, and then commit to pray for one another each morning while using them.

29. Say, "While you're in the hospital I'd be happy to take care of your pet."

30. Don't tell her about your brother's niece's cousin's best friend who tried a cure for the same illness and. . . (you know the rest).

31. Find out which charity is most important to her and then give a donation in her honor.

32. Ask, "What are your top three indulgences?" and then spoil her soon.

33. Hold the door open for her. They are heavy!

34. Don't tease her and call her "hop along" or "slowpoke." Comments you mean in fun can cut to the quick and destroy her spirit. Proverbs 18:14 says, "A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?"

35. Say, "I know you must need someone to just vent to occasionally. I may not fully understand how you feel, but I'm here to listen anytime."

36. Ask your church youth group to come over and clean up the yard during seasonal changes.

37. Don't ask her, "How are you able to make it financially?" If she wants to share a burden she will.

38. Ask, "What would you advise me to look for in a new doctor?"

39. If your friend has a disabled parking placard and you are driving, allow her to tell you where she wants to park. If she's feeling particularly good that day, she may not want to park in the "blue space." Don't be disappointed that you'll have to walk farther.

40. Don't gossip about others. She'll wonder what you say about her. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)

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Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Be kind, gentle, and respectful.

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41. Accept that her chronic illness may not ever go away. If she's accepting it, don't tell her the illness is winning and she's giving in to it.

42. Don't say, "Let me know if there is anything I can do." People rarely feel comfortable saying, "Yes, my laundry." Instead pick something you are willing to do and then ask her permission. Try the coupon in back!

43. Ask her to share her testimony at an event.

44. Buy a magazine subscription for her on her favorite topic.


45. Plant a rosebush to view from a window.

46. Understand that you don't need to know all of the details about the illness in order to be helpful. He'll share with you what he's comfortable with you knowing.

47. Don't ask, "Why can't the doctors help you?" or insinuate that it must be in her head. There are millions of people who are in pain with illnesses that do not have cures.

48. Avoid having gifts be "pity gifts." Just say, "I saw these flowers and their cheerfulness reminded me of you."

49. Send tapes of church services your friend misses to her with a copy of the bulletin and a note.

50. If she doesn't have a cordless phone, get her one. Phone headsets are also nice.


That's 50. Do you have any special ways you have reached out to someone special in your life who has been in need due to a long-term illness or injury??


16 comments:

mommaof4wife2r said...

all fab ideas...i like them way better than "let me know if you need help". there's real action here! sending a big fat hello from SITS today!

2busy said...

I have a problem with saying, "Let me know if there is anything I can do for you..." I truly mean it, but realize it is too vague. When some says that to me, my general answer is "I'm fine" even if I'm not.

When I help with meals. I ALWAYS put things in disposable containers. It's much less of a headache for the recipient to figure out which bowl goes to which person AND get it back to them.

These are fabulous ideas. Perfect for use on anyone, not necissarily someone with a chronic illness, but anyone who might need to be lifted up.

Tired Mom Tesa said...

Great list. I think this is important for people to know. Often, like your friends, they want to help but don't know how. There's some good suggestions here.

Still thinking about you and hoping you feel a bit better every day.

Ms Bibi said...

I really enjoyed your today's post. I think lots of people have problems to deals with other people's illness and conditions.

My best friend was terminally ill and she's no longer with us, but I am proud to say that she had a group of 5 caring and loving friends. We were by her side till the last second of her life.We asked questions, we listened, we joked around, we cried,we cooked, we cleaned, we redecorated her bedroom to make her feel special. We all would do it for rest of our lives if we had to just to have her with us.

mooneyequalsmc2 said...

I hope that you are having a good day today! Thank you for this list. I always offer my help to those who might be ill...but noone has actually ever called me up for help...now I know better to offer things from this list.

I really like how well thought out it is...just something simple like brightly colored plates and napkins ( paper, of course! ) is such a nice touch.

Thanks!
Mindy~

Tammy said...

I was very active in MOPS a few years back. We always made meals for the new moms but our table had a gal who would get migranes that would stop her in her tracks. We all brought meals on her rough days. It was so helpful for her. I always bring meals in disposable dishes...much easier for the friend. Great advice Teresa! xoxo

Cathy said...

Those are great suggestions, thank you. I hope you are feeling better. And thank you for your sweet visit. Blessings ~

Kara @ His, Hers and Ours said...

What a great list! You have given some really good ideas that I will be putting to use.

My husband suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is basically an invisible illness. It pains me to know that this list will one day apply to him.

CEOmum said...

Theresa these are wonderful.

I would never have thought of the umbrella.

Been a while.*Hugs*

janis said...

This is beautiful. Thank yo for sharing it. I am sure it will help so many with a ripple effect. :)

Brook said...

Oooh, I'm thankful for this post! This is helpful information for me. Also, thanks for dropping by my blog. Yes, there were shoes on that tree, and lots of them! It was really weird. A friend and I were on a road trip up the west coast and we passed that tree out in the middle of nowhere...with all it's shoes! There were too many pairs to count. Again, thanks for dropping by and for the comment love, SITSta. It is nice to "meet" you. Wishing you all the best.

Kindest regards,
Brook

Teresha@Marlie and Me said...

great post! I love that you are always learning and willing to share your insights with others. Happy Friday Friend!

christy rose said...

I have to admit that I am not a very good talker to the people that I know that are going through hard times. I always feel like I do not know what to say at all. And then sometimes when I do try to say something, I feel like it was a stupid thing to say later on. These are some great ideas of things to do to help make me feel more comfortable in reaching out to anyone who is dealing with any kind of hardship.
Thanks for this post. It had to have taken a long time to get it posted. Hope you are feeling well today. :)

Tammy said...

I have an award for you over on my blog...enjoy! Have a great weekend!

Samantha said...

This is a beautiful post. I am sure
I will be looking back it for reminders. These are such great ideas, things I would not have thought of, thanks so much for sharing them !
Hugs and blessings to you my friend.

septembermom said...

All wonderful idea. So many of them are about the simple thoughtful gestures that one can do for another. I think I should print out this list for future reference. It's a great source of ideas.

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