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Twenty Ways to Support a Friend who has a Child with a Serious Illness

November 9, 2016

When someone in your life has a child diagnosed with a serious illness, their world is turned upside down. As a friend, you want to find the right things to do to help, however it is not always easy to know what they need. And saying ‘Just call if you need something,’ is not helpful, because many times families don’t know what they need, or just won’t call. Here are some practical tips from Tu Nidito families who have been there.

  1. Don’t avoid my child or me. Be the friend you’ve always been.
  2. Don’t be afraid to touch my child or me. Ask my child if it’s okay first, because sometimes they may be in pain.  A simple squeeze of my hand can tell us that you still care.
  3. Call me to tell me you’re bringing my child’s favorite dish and what time you are coming. Bring food in disposable containers, so I won’t worry about returns.
  4. Take care of my child for me. Take them out for a pleasure trip, buy them a book, watch a movie, play games, sit and talk, sit and listen, color with them. Sometimes I need to get out of the room or out of the house.
  5. Take care of my other children for me. My ill child needs time to be alone, or just be with me. I may need this time too.
  6. Weep with me when I weep. Laugh with me when I laugh. Don’t be afraid to share this with me.
  7. Call for my shopping list and make a “special” delivery to my home.
  8. Call before you visit, but don’t be afraid to visit. We need you. We are sometimes lonely.
  9. Help us celebrate holidays (and life) by decorating my child’s hospital room or bedroom at home or bringing him/her tiny gifts of flowers or other natural treasures.
  10. Help the entire family. My child is sick, but the entire family is affected. Offer to stay with my child to give other family members a break. Invite them out.  Take them places.  My other children may need extra attention or a little vacation from the illness.
  11. Be creative! Bring a book of thoughts, taped music, a poster for my child’s wall or cookies to share.
  12. Let’s talk about it. Maybe I need to talk about my child’s illness. Find out by asking me:  “Do you feel like talking about it?”  My child may need to talk about it too.  Don’t be afraid to ask them the same question.  Please respect and understand our requests not to talk about it too.
  13. Don’t always feel we have to talk. We can sit silently together.
  14. Can you take my children or me somewhere? We may need transportation to a treatment, to the store, to run errands or to a doctor.
  15. Please include my child in decision-making. They have been robbed of so many things. Please don’t deny them a chance to make decisions in their life.
  16. Talk to my child and me about the future. Hope for the future is so important to us.
  17. Bring me a positive attitude. It’s catching!
  18. What’s in the news? Bring magazines, photos, newspapers, verbal reports – keep us from feeling the world is passing us by.
  19. Would you help me with some cleaning? Along with my child’s illness, my family and I still face dirty clothes, dirty dishes, a dirty house as well as yardwork and flowers to water.
  20. Just send a card to say, “I care”.

Remember Tu Nidito is here as a resource. If you have any questions or need support in any way, please call us.

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