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How to Support a Friend With a Serious Illness?

Suffering comes in many forms, and health issues are one of them. Health problems and chronic diseases are draining for the patient as well as for the friends and family around them.

Sometimes we know how to deal with it, but on most days, our emotional turmoil and pain can get the better of us, especially for those around us who don’t know how to reassure the person suffering from the disease. On those days, we don’t know how to deal with it, or what to say to make the other person feel better and supported.

Moreover, supporting your friend during these times also depends on your schedule, health, jobs, and commitments. If you are in a dilemma on how to be there for your friend, here’s a list of a few things that may help.

1.   Make Exciting Plans

Dealing with a severe illness takes a lot out of a person. In these situations, we are reluctant to make plans for trips, day-outs, and parties. However, these plans can become the highlight of their day. It distracts them from their suffering and allows them to relax and enjoy life with those they love and care about. It gives them something to look forward to and makes their mind focus on a goal rather than what they are currently going through.

2.   Visit Whenever You Can

Being ill may be isolating but also stressful. If you want to pay a visit to a friend, call and check what a suitable time is, or check in with a caretaker. However, keep in mind that things may change in an instant, so be adaptable if your buddy has to postpone. Plan your visit during a time when it is less likely to be crowded, such as on weekends or holidays. Those non-busy moments may be when your friend would benefit from your company the most.

3.   Ask What You Can do For Them

Is your friend willing to discuss his illness? If that’s the case, give him a chance. Would he want to put the sickness aside and talk about a shared interest or sport, or would he prefer to just talk about life generally? This may make him feel more connected to the life they were once living.  Don’t be shy about asking your friend what they need from you.

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4.   Do Little Things to Help Them Out

Someone suffering from a serious disease may not know how to respond to the question, “What can I do to help?” Alternatively, the person may be too ashamed or timid to ask for a favor. So instead, provide proactive, targeted offers like:

Do you want me to vacuum?

What is your favorite food so that I may prepare several meals for you to freeze?

Do you want me to pick up your children from their activities?

5.   Offer to Visit the Doctor With Them or Accompany Them to Appointments

It might be challenging to attend a medical visit, therapy, or support group. Offer to drive your buddy to and from appointments if you are able. If you feel at ease doing so, you might volunteer to accompany him to the appointment to take notes and assist in asking any questions you or your buddy may have.

6.   Focus on The Good Around You

Try to be optimistic while discussing the disease or the future, but don’t push it. Choosing to focus on the may include taking a walk outside on a lovely day or laughing at something amusing. However, if your friend wants to talk about their fears, don’t push them off in an effort to remain positive.

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