Helping Friends Through Medical Mayhem
I recently learned that a friend of mine was going through medical mayhem. I was concerned and upset. She had been there for me when my world was turned upside down and I wanted to be there for her. And while you might think with my experience as a caregiver and care receiver I would know how to handle this; I found myself asking –
“How can I help and not hinder/” How can I show her I care but not sound preachy?”
I realized that it’s easy to fall into saying things that might hurt rather than sooth and needed to sit myself down and review what I had needed from friends while I was going through my medical mayhem. It is a time of mass confusion and while I worked hard to look like I was handling it, inside my body was a mass of slithering snakes and twitchy nerves.
So I sat myself down in my recliner the other day and stared out at the beautiful preserve we look onto and put myself back in time.
I realized that it’s probably easier to list what NOT to do.
- Don’t disappear because the situation is sad, difficult or you don’t know what to say.
- Don’t Preach.
- Don’t talk about what you did when…In other words, don’t talk about yourself.
- Don’t pretend to be a medical expert. Most people having medical issues have a team of medical experts. They don’t need you to tell them what to do.
- Don’t ramble on about how everything is going to be fine. Each person’s disease or medical issue is different; as unique as each person is. An only God knows the outcome and the why and when.
- Don’t take it personal if your friend doesn’t want to talk to you. Medical mayhem may strike suddenly, getting through it is a long process.
So what can you do?
- Acknowledge what is happening. Even if it is to say you don’t know what to say. Be sure to tell them you care and want to help in any way you can.
- Offer your ear. This means to sit and listen without interrupting them. Allowing them time to vocalize their thoughts often helps to crystalize what they are feeling along with what is happening to them and their life.
- Instead of asking what you can do to help, jump in and take on some of the everyday tasks. Make a meal, take a meal and maybe one to freeze for later. Offer to pick up or take their children to school, or provide an overnight PJ party for them so that there is some respite. Offer to run errands or get groceries. Send humorous, uplifting cards, notes, flowers and magazines or books.
- Stay in contact. When someone is first diagnosed with a medical issue there is a lot of contact from friends and family. But over a period of time, many go about their lives, while the patient continues to deal with the upheaval. While you don’t want to be intrusive, staying in contact by phone, visits, texts or emails or even a gift of a manicure or pedicure shows you are thinking of them.
- Asking someone how they are doing can often bring up reminders of what is going on, or how unsettled and unnerved they are. But you might say something like “What’s up?” or offer words of encouragement like “You are amazing!”
- Spend time with them doing routine things. While they are a patient they are still your friend and they may be tired of everyone seeing them as a patient. So watch TV, listen to music, take a walk, and talk about other things besides the medical mayhem. Providing a sense of normalcy can be a respite from a world turned upside down.
- Simply be with them. Knowing that someone is with them, not expecting a conversation, but just letting them know they are not alone can be the very best gift you can give them.
- Ask if you can pray with them. Prayer helps us to seek outside of ourselves and reach for a God who is truly present and can do the impossible. Prayer often allows those facing medical issues to be able to place their issue into the hands of God. At least for a moment.
How do you help a friend dealing with medical mayhem? What do you do to make their life easier? How do you show emotionally and physical support? What was the most helpful thing someone has done for you? Please share in the conversation.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to comment here or even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.