When Your Friend or Family Member is Fighting for His or Her Life

What not to do or say to the caregiver

Most people don’t know what to say or do in times of enormous pain and suffering. It happens that I’ve learned a few things during the past month in which I lost my mother-in-law and three weeks later, her precious son, my husband and love of my life. I hope these points help you to navigate the experience with grace.

Don’t tell the spouse or responsible party for their care to “be strong.”

The fact that they continue to endure watching their loved one fight for life and show up for them every day and night, is evidence of their strength.

Many days, they want to break in two, but instead, they stand tall and face gripping uncertainty so palpable your well-meaning strength requirement discounts everything they’re going through.

“I want to help.” That’s great!

Start here.

Ask what they need and how you can help.

Don’t give them assignments and more work to do like updating you and entertaining you because you’re on the scene.

Try actually helping without any effort from them.

Here are a few ways to help:

  • Cook meals and store in the fridge or freezer so they don’t have to. Daily trips and commutes to hospital visits are taxing. They need energy provided by food and your love.
  • Pay for meal delivery from local eateries to hospital rooms or home to keep them well nourished and to provide much needed energy.
  • Grocery shop for them without making it a thing.
  • Offer to take them to and from hospital visits. This is needed more often than you may think.
  • Babysit or provide childcare for those with children. Donate a day/night or two to give them rest.
  • If they have pets, look after them – feeding, walking dogs, and caring for pets while they stay overnight at hospital visits.
  • Prayer circles work miracles!

However, don’t ask for nor share specific details of the patient’s medical condition.

hospital bed

If you’re not a doctor on the team caring for the patient you don’t need to know the specifics.

Leave it up to them to share what THEY want to share and keep your mouth closed!

In this world of internet viral-ness the world seems to have gone mad sharing EVERYTHING!
It is not normal. People suffering and those supporting those suffering do not need their medical details spread to the world, large or small.

What to Say:

  • I’m in this with you.
  • I’m listening.
  • I hear you.
  • I’m here to mitigate stress and drama.
  • We’re believing with and for you.
  • God is in the Blessing and Miracle Business!
  • I’ve got you!
  • I’m praying for you with belief everyday!
  • What would you like me to pray or chant for specifically?
  • How can I be of service?

Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences one can have.

The process leading up to their loss is gripping. You, a loving, well-meaning person can be a significant source of help and comfort, but it is a delicate balance. Be thoughtful, listen more than you speak, and set your intention on being comfort to them.

You’ll find they will remember you forever as someone who held them up while standing in the gap. ❤️