How to Minister to a Sick Friend

Nearly ten years ago, I was struck with an incredible illness. Overnight, I was unable to get out of bed. I couldn’t run errands, clean my house, or school my children. I was absolutely dependent on other people.

I don’t know what I would have done without the friends and family that cared for me and my family while I regained my strength and literally got back on my feet. I will never forget the sacrifices they made and the kindness that other people showed me. I try to repay those blessings as often as I can. When I do, there are a few things that I keep in mind when ministering to a sick friend.

1. Be patient.

I literally went from feeling great to not being able to get out of bed in a matter of days. Until that point in my life, I had always been very independent which made it difficult for me to accept help from others.

I remember a friend coming to clean my house and instead of allowing her to work, I followed her from room to room trying to help. Finally, I collapsed on the couch and fell asleep, much to her relief!

2. Meals are wonderful while your friend is in the hospital and when she first arrives home, but the recovery process can take weeks and sometimes months, or longer. Don’t forget them just because they seem to be doing better. When I started to improve, I wanted to use every ounce of energy holding my children and reading books to them on the couch. I didn’t want to use my new found oomph to cook meals. Needless to say, we ate a lot of takeout during that time- my waist still hasn’t recovered.

3. I loved visitors but not if they stopped by unannounced. Don’t forget to visit, but keep your visits brief. I know it’s difficult to visit a sick person but I’ll never forget the friend that would sit by my bed and talk to me while her husband visited with my husband in the other room.

4. I was grateful to my friends for including my children in a co-op, field trip, trip to the park and even for homeschooling them when I couldn’t.

Once my husband was sure that I wasn’t going to die, he went back to work. We couldn’t afford for him to take off more time, but that left the kids unattended much of the day.  As much as I hated it, there were times that the television and computer became their babysitter and substitute teacher. Thank goodness for the History Channel and all the various computer programs for homeschoolers!

I was grateful that friends regularly asked my kids to join them for the day. It allowed me to rest guilt-free and gave the kids a taste of normalcy.

5. Phone calls are wonderful, but don’t forget that your friend may not have the strength emotionally, or physically to handle many. Keep your conversations brief. And for heavens’ sake, if you call and leave a message and your call is not returned, do not get offended!  Greeting cards are a wonderful alternative to phone calls and will let your friend know that you are thinking of them.

6. Don’t forget to pray for your friend and her family.

7. Your friends’ illness puts a strain on the rest of the family. Do you feel led to help the family? There are so many needs and if your friend
is anything like me, she won’t feel comfortable asking for help. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Do a load of laundry for the family.
  2. Clean the house.
  3. Help the kids with their school work or do a fun activity, like an art project or science experiment.
  4. Keep the kids overnight.
  5. Treat the kids to ice cream.
  6. Read to the kids.
  7. Play a game with the kids.
  8. Walk the family dog.
  9. Take the kids for a walk.
  10. Run errands for the family.
  11. Drive your friend to doctor appointments so her husband doesn’t have to miss work.
  12. Make copies of worksheets needed for school.
  13. Drop-off or pick- up books at the library.
  14. Buy your friend cute PJ’s to lounge in.
  15. Take your friend to get her hair done if she feels up to it, if not, fix her hair at home.

8. Finally, lend a listening ear. If your friend needs to talk, listen and remember that they have good days and bad days.

When I was recovering, I bounced back and forth between being grateful that I could walk outside in the fresh air, to being upset that I didn’t have the energy to walk the five miles that I had before my illness.  Let them vent. It’s normal.

Finally, remember that your friend may have gotten sick overnight, but chances are the road to recovery is not as swift. A life threatening illness is very stressful and not easily forgotten. I may look and talk like the same person I’ve always been, but my life is forever changed.

What are some ways that you have ministered to a friend in need?

Today Tonya is grateful for each breath she takes and makes the most our of every moment. You can read about the fun, family friendly educational field trips that she takes with her family at The Traveling Praters or join her for a cup of tea as she shares decorating
tips, craft ideas and home management solutions at My Homey Haven.

Tonya Prater