25 Practical Tips for Friends and Neighbors

How You Can Help Someone Living with Serious Illness

  • Don't avoid me. Be the friend…the loved one, you've always been.

  • Touch me. A simple squeeze of my hand can tell me you still care. 

  • Call me to tell me you're bringing my favorite dish and what time you are coming. Bring food in disposable containers, so I won't worry about returns. 

  • Take care of my children for me. I need a little time to be alone with my loved one. My children may also need a little vacation from my illness. 

  • Weep with me when I weep. Laugh with me when I laugh. Don't be afraid to share this with me. 

  • Take me out for a pleasure trip, but know my limitations. 

  • Call for my shopping list and make a "special" delivery to my home. 

  • Call me before you visit, but don't be afraid to visit. I need you. I am lonely. 

  • Help me celebrate holidays (and life!) by decorating my hospital room or home or bringing me tiny gifts of flowers or other natural treasures. 

  • Help my family. I am sick, but they may be suffering. Offer to come stay with me to give my loved ones a break. Invite them out. Take them places. 

  • Be creative! Bring me a book of thoughts, taped music, a poster for my wall, cookies to share with my family and friends…an old friend who hasn't come to visit me. 

  • Let's talk about it. Maybe I need to talk about my illness. Find out by asking me: "Do you feel like talking about it?" 

  • Don't always feel we have to talk. We can sit quietly together. 

  • Can you take me or my children somewhere? I may need transportation to a treatment…to the store…to a doctor. 

  • Help me feel good about my looks. Tell me I look good, considering my illness. 

  • Please include me in decision making. I've been robbed of so many things. Please don't deny me a chance to make decisions in my family…in my life. 

  • Talk to me of the future. Tomorrow, next week, next year. Hope is so important to me. 

  • Bring me a positive attitude. It's catching! 

  • What's in the news? Magazines, photos, newspapers, verbal reports, keep me from feeling the world is passing me by. 

  • Could you help me with some cleaning? During my illness, my family and I still face: dirty clothes, dirty dishes, dirty house.

  • Water my flowers.

  • Just send a card to say, "I care".

  • Pray for me and share your faith with me.

  • Tell me what you'd like to do for me and, when I agree, please do it! 

  • Tell me about organizations like Hope that may be able to help me.

Reproduced with the permission of Saint Anthony's Health Center