Thoughts on comforting the sick or injured
This month we are focusing on sharing hope with others. Here is an article that I wrote a little while ago. I hope you find it helpful. I would love to hear your stories of how you shared some tidings of comfort and hope this month.
C– Contact with cards, calls, visits.
A– Ask questions to better understand needs.
R– Risk your self and reach out.
E– End with prayer.
It is sometimes hard to know what to do when someone you know well, or not well at all, is ill or injured. Some people don’t want company but a card is lovely. Some want company and get lonely. Sometimes a card would suffice or would Facebook or an email be better….?
With so many options it’s hard to know what to do. In caring for both my husband and my mom in the past several years, through trial and error, I believe I discovered some helpful tips.
My Mom has had several bouts of extended illnesses including several surgeries, hospitalization and chemotherapy. My husband was seriously injured. He had surgeries, hospitalization and physical therapy as well as a resulting disability.
For both the family and the infirmed, comfort and encouragement are vital to survival and recovery. For someone who is normally outgoing, being sidelined is especially difficult even devastating. For the quieter person, isolation is no less painful and they often find it more difficult to express the need for human contact.
Here are some thoughts on ways and ideas of reaching out and maintaining contact with people in need.
1. Most Notable Award
Most people want to know they are being thought of so cards are great. I know that most stores sell boxes of cards (blanks are great). A short note like ‘thinking of you’ or ‘praying for your continued recovery’ is a thoughtful, unobtrusive way to reach out to the person and/or their family especially in the weeks and months to come when the excitement wears off.
2. To Call or not to Call that is the Question
There is no easy answer to this. So…if possible ask a family member if the person would be up to or interested in a phone call. If there is no one to ask, I recommend risking a call and in the process asking if another phone call would be desired or is there another way they would prefer to hear from you.
3. A Computer Wizard
A lot –I would dare say even most people– have access to and are involved in electronic communication. Don’t assume they aren’t. Ask. In this day and age, emails, ecards, Facebook, Skype, and Twitter are all potential avenues to keep in contact with people. I love cards in the mail but have come to appreciate to expediency and the thought that comes with a Facebook message, too.
4. Knock Knock-Who’s There
Once you’ve made the decision to visit face to face-now what? It can be a little scary. Whether it’s a home visit or hospital there are things to consider that will help put you both at ease. Keep your visits short unless you are also providing physical care like food, hair care, massage, etc. Ten to 15 minutes is good to start (unless already discussed with person or family) and no more than 30 minutes. This will help with most awkwardness. Illness brings vulnerability in the area of the physical body. People vary in their comfortableness with bodily functions and visiting in their pajamas/hospital gowns.
It’s great to come prepared with some interesting news or story. Perhaps something that may be of interest to them. Keep it positive and encouraging. It is better to skip the economy, politics, recent arrests, crime rate–think “Guideposts-type” stories. It might be a good idea to read and/or bring a Guidepost or Reader’s Digest with you.
Share something that is happening in your family but again keep it somewhat on the lighter side. The weather, seasons, pets, kids or a hobby are good places to start or maybe a local event. Don’t feel compelled to talk either. There is much comfort in just being there. Asking questions, taking interest in what they’re going through makes a person feel important. A mix of your chit chat and questions about them usually make a good combo. You can usually tell if someone doesn’t feel like talking. If other family members are there they will usually engage in the conversation.
Don’t forget to ask if there is anything they need or that you can do for them. And always offer to pray. Keep it short and sweet: Lord bless _______ with your comfort and peace as You walk with them thru this storm. Thank you for keeping ________ and his/her family close to you. Amen.
However awkward and difficult it may be, sharing hope and comfort brings just that back to the giver. Be brave. Sharing hope is an excellent way to intentionally grow some for yourself.
Heidi Mull, sharing and caring and growing some hope.
And baking some cookies for a friend, who will make the tea, and the circle of life goes on…