How do you help a friend who has suddenly been hospitalized? I had a good friend who crashed on her bike yesterday training for Ironman Chattanooga, suffered a severe injury and is now facing a long hospital stay and even longer recuperation. I’ve had a surprise hospitalization and long recovery myself, so I thought I’d write down some things you can do to help a friend in the same situation.
For an oversimplified version of my story, a fist sized mass on my small intestine, which had grown from a surgery 30 years earlier, decided to explode, because, you know, it felt like it. I went to the hospital at 3AM, and woke up sometime the next day with tubes in my nose, horrible pain, and had a half foot incision on my stomach. After 10 days in the hospital on an IV drip, I was released to go home. It was a high stress time, as we had a newborn, a toddler and had just moved into a new house without having been able to sell our old house (thank you, economy :). Since they cut clear through the muscles of the abdominal wall, I couldn’t support anything, and wasn’t allowed to hold my little baby for almost two months. Come to think of it, my intestines exploded almost 7 years ago today, and it took till about Christmas till I was back to normal.
Luckily, we had an incredible group of friends and family looking out for us, and they set a great example for how to help someone like us in need.
Prayer works. Jesus is listening, so pray for that person daily or whenever they come to mind.
A meal list is a popular thing, but you need to make sure you do it the right way. Sometimes people feel the size of their dish has to be big to show they care, but seriously, who can eat a gigantic vegetable lasagna in one sitting? Also, make sure that if you make a meal for someone, it’s in a disposable dish. We ended up having quite a collection of those porcelain casserole dishes with no idea who they belonged to. Our Sunday school class and neighbors were amazing. Make sure you leave instruction if necessary. An Indian family across the street made us some authentic Indian food. When we relayed that we’d mixed the rice-type stuff and the cinnamon golf ball thing together, they were like, “Yeah, you mixed the main course and the dessert together…but that’s totally, uh, fine.”
I like to do gift cards for places that deliver, or are very close to their home or where their spouse works. That way, they can get what they want, when they want it. If it’s a delivery place, make sure to not just give the gift card (which they can use to pay over the phone), but also include a few bucks for tip for the delivery person, which generally you can’t do with a gift card.
Crowdrise and some other places have cool ways to collect funds for people. Gift cards to places like Target, Wal-Mart, Publix, etc, work well (ask a closer friend who might know where they shop).
Want to always be prepared to help? Start Your Own Emergency Giving Fund!
4) House help
One of our neighbors hired a guy to mow our yard. I was completely out of it, and it never occurred to me to do it myself. I remember laundry was the bane of our existence for a while. See if you can help around the house, or better yet, hire a house cleaner for them for a time. Sometimes people prefer to have a stranger cleaning things up, rather than having a friend see all their mess. Cleaners can be expensive, so in one instance 10 friends got together and paid for it. Also, don’t forget their spouse. Often it’s harder on them in some ways that the person with the physical recovery. My wife was awesome, but I know it really took a toll on her, and it was great when family or friends came and gave her a break.
Take out your calendar right now, whether its in a planner or on your phone or whatever, and mark it for one month, two months, and/or three months from now. THAT is when this friend of yours really needs you. It’s human nature to have a big emotional reaction right when an accident or hospitalization occurs, but your friend is still in need much longer. Get them another gift card, watch their kids for them, send them a card to encourage them on October 1st, November 1st, and December 1st.
How has someone helped you in a time of need?
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