Friday, December 30, 2011

Ways To Help Someone Who Is Chronically Ill...

Having a chronic illness presents many challenges. I think one of the hardest things to deal with is the fact that it is not usually temporary. What I mean is, when a woman has a baby or gets the flu, usually friends, family members, or the church they belong to brings in meals for a few days, tosses in a load or two of laundry, and helps them get over the hump. After a few days, there is little need for help.

This is not the case with chronic illness. Often, the sick person does not recover within a few days or weeks. The illness lingers. And so does the need for help. But often, the help does not come. People tend to forget that this person needs help long term, and often the sick person him/herself doesn't feel comfortable asking for it.

And then there are many who want to help, but are not sure what to do or say. Often, they will say something like, "If you need anything, let me know." The only problem is, it's hard sometimes to call someone and ask them to wash your dishes or do your laundry, to pick up groceries or prescriptions or make a casserole. It makes you feel like an intrusion when you know these kind people have their own lives to live, their own children to feed, their own groceries to shop for.

I have given all of this a lot of thought as I have laid in my bed, unable to do much physically because of the pain and inflammation of my illnesses. I have wondered whether God has perhaps allowed me to experience this, at least in part, in order to understand those with chronic illnesses better, to cultivate a sense of compassion and empathy I could not otherwise posses. I am determined, whether I get better or just have a few good days here or there, to find ways to minister love and support to other people with chronic illnesses.

I have thought up lots of ways to minister practically and emotionally, and have considered writing about it, in hopes that it might help someone else to be a blessing. But I was very excited to find there was a book already published that is chock full of suggestions for blessing those with chronic illnesses.

Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways To Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend by Lisa J. Copen
is a gem. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to bless a sick friend, family or church member, or just a person in their community who needs support or encouragement. There are so many wonderful ideas, that there really is something for everyone. And I truly see this as a book I would refer back to over and over to come up with more ideas when I can't think of anything else.

But just to give you a little taste, I want to share some of my favorites:

#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."

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

#41 Accept that her chronic illness may not 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.

#53 Do not reassure her that God can heal all illnesses if one has enough faith. People with illness know God is capable of healing. Do remind her that God knows and cares.

#59 Say, "I'd like to bring you dinner next week. Would Monday or Tuesday night be better?"

#68 Never say, "I know just how you feel!" even if you are absolutely positive that you do.

#71 Drop by her house with a fancy cup of hot tea or coffee on a dreary rainy day and tell her you were thinking of her.

#74 Be aware of his favorite books and pick them up when you see them.

#141 Not every piece of correspondence requires a long letter. Include a sticky note with a newspaper clipping, a recipe, an interesting magazine article, or a cartoon; and just write, "Thought you would enjoy this! Thinking of you!"

#152 Watch your friend's children so she and her spouse can have a night out.

#157 Don't share any horror stories: about illness, surgeries, hospitals- nothing.

#163 Don't let your fear of not knowing what to say prevent you from keeping in touch.

#168 Don't say, "Oh, you're much too young to have that disease."

#188 Bring her some cute refrigerator magnets for photos and cards you will send.

#198 Don't assume that he has plenty of meals delivered and plenty of daily cards. He likely has much less than you believe.

#209 Give a gift card to a major variety store {Wal-Mart, grocery stores, etc.} for necessities one needs and can't afford.

There are lots, lots more, and there are also scripture verses and lovely quotes that inspire and encourage... I will close with my personal favorite, by Henri Nouwen:

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."

I really don't think I could have said it any better myself.

May we look for ways to make our love and concern tangible in the lives of those who need us.

Remember, Jesus told us when we minister to the least of these, we are ministering to Him.

~amy danielle

{Kind friends, I do hope this post has helped, in some small way, to equip you to bless others. Please share your own ideas, if you feel led to do so, in the box below. Perhaps a way you have blessed someone else, or a way you have been blessed? I would love to hear from you...}


  1. MyName is Veona ,a longtime friend of Amy's Family.Ifirst of all want to thank Amy for her Honestyin how she feels in her Bolg.Sometimes People who have a Chronic Illness just feels like they have told everyone how they feel so much that they are afraid to open up and share how they really feel.People who have a Chronic Illness get left behind at times because it is Chronic.Someone with an Acute Illness like maybe a Cold or a Heat Attack people can see that and want to help them..But someone who has a Chronic Illness you can't always see there pain..Bur it is there and it is Real..That being said my Husband's incouragement card for today say's:God never Promisesus that life will be free of struggles.We will face trials.In fact,we can look at trials as the best way to develop our Character.But sometimes,trials weigh us down.It's so easy to give up.However,we can persevere through trials if we ask the Lord to give us the Strength we need to see it through.He wants to see us carry on Because he want's us to grow.And he will reward us for that Perseverance.Scripture tells us in James 1:12 NIV Blessed is the Man who perseveres under trial,because when he has stood the test,he will recieve the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him..I have more to write and will do it on another post.Veona Ackerma

  2. My Husband is one who has a Chronic Illnessoff and on for 20 years.My Husband has had Cancer 5 times and is facing a 6th one.That being said all his Cancers are Dormant so the Doctors say.Whe he had Cancer the 1st time,and before he recieved treatments the Leukemia passed over into the Spinal Barrier causing chronic Boneand Muscle Pain.The Cancer went into Remission but no one told the Pain to go into Remission because it's Permanetly there..It was extremely rare for it to happen but it did happen.This Pain is a Chronic Pain,one you can't see but he can feel it,and the pain is real..My husband has had comments from all over the world from friends who mean well.They ould say things like maybe you should take this Medication or that Medication.Or WOW God must Love you so much to allow you to go through this much pain.One of our favorite is you must have sinned and thats why God caused all of this..First of all I feel God didn't cause this pain or Cancer but I do feel that God allows his Children to go through these trials so they can be able to share God's Blessings and Love to others who are going through the same things a Chronic Illness.Some People think they have all the right answers.But to tell you the truth a Person with a Chronic Ilness want's what we all want,to feel better ,to have no more pain,to be Loved.and to be Validated in their Pain that the pain is real and not their fault.Some People who have a Chronic Illness may have a good Day once in awhile and go out to do things with their families,and then all of a sudden they are flat on their Back that day/night or the next day.Sometimes a person has has a Chronic Illness has such Debilitating pain that they feellike giving up,but they don't.They Love their family more than life itself.They want to giveGod their cares and woes so others don't see their pain.People come to us and I know they mean well,but the say if you need anything just let us know.Ok don't say that unless your willing to back that up...I will share two stories of what I mean.One recent Episode was someone knew we have a family of 6 to feed and we have no jobs yet and just moved into the state,they presented us with a Box of food,including several frozen Chickens,hot dogs ,pizzas,ans Orange Juice,several loafs of Bread,eggs,and lotsof canned Veggies,..Then the other day someone said if theres anything they can do to help let them know,I said we were needing gas in my carto get my Daughter to work until she get's paid,they said they would pray someone helps with getting you gas.Then we watched as they pulled into a Restaurant.Really I felt maybe they could have given us a few dollars for Gas..but who am I to Judge..A Person with a Chronic Illness don't want to ask for help.Sure this person may have their families to help,but they would love for just one person who cared enough to follow through with what they say.If all you can do is Pray forthat person then do it Pray for them.or Send words of Incouragement ,Or take their spouse or Children out for the day.They need a Break too.By the way when you visit a Person with a Chronic Illness Bring a smile and don't stay awhile.Some people just don't know when to leave.You may have just used up that persons last energy for the day.Don't think of them as Contagious they are not..and why not share a meal with them,bring them a meal the same day of the week for a month or so.It would be nice not to have to cook 4 days a month.Oh and something my Husband said it don't tell someone you know their pain even if you do.Just let them know you are there for them and mean it.Just share God's Love to them...I hope some of what I have said makes sence to someone out there and be able to help someone know that a Person with a Chronic Illness is Realand they matter long after the Diagnoses is over,,cause the Ilness is there even when you can't see it..Many Blessings to all of you out there,and again thank you Amy for opening up and telling it like it is..Many Blessings Veona Ackerman..

  3. {The above post was from Veona. She had some trouble posting it, so I copied and pasted it for her. I think she gave some great examples of things that are a genuine help and also things that we should avoid saying, things that discourage those who are already hurting. I have had several people encourage me to simply *receive my healing*, *have faith*, or some other variation of God must trust you a lot to give you this sickness... and I completely identify with her husband's comment- that we should not assume we have any idea what another person's level of pain is or what it's like. Perhaps the greatest way to bless is to validate someone with love and acceptance, and find practical, tangible ways to demonstrate Jesus- to be hands and feet. Making meals, writing cards, buying gas, and so many other ways we put action to our prayers.}

  4. Wonderful post, Amy. I loved many of those suggestions and could relate to more than one. Two other friends (one with recurrent breast cancer and another who does not have a chronic illness but cares for those who do) and I share a gratitude journal. It is a huge blessing for all of us. Another friend came to see me last week. She brought everything needed to make me tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. She stayed just long enough to eat lunch with me and for a short while. Blessed my socks off! One thing I could have used help with over the holidays was buying gifts for my family. The only way I could shop (which was only twice) was if my daughter and/or husband helped me and that made it difficult for me to buy gifts for them. I would have loved for someone else to offer to take me Christmas shopping.

  5. I must post a link on my blog for this Amy you have put into very eloquent words what I would like to say, thank you x.


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