Do you know the best ways to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis?
My thanks to Kerry Sheeran, Author of The Marathon, a powerful memoir about their daughter’s journey and struggle for life, for this guest post.
It’s not always to know what to do or what to say or how to be genuinely helpful to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis, but Kerry’s post guides us through her top ten pieces of advice, from someone who’s been there.
Top Ten Ways to Help a Friend Whose Child is Facing a Medical Crisis
Watching a family member or friend suffer through the illness or hospitalization of their child can leave a person feeling utterly helpless. It can be hard to determine when and how to offer your support. Where is the line between being too pushy and not the least bit supportive? How can you be the person your friend needs during a difficult time in their lives? I have some experience in this department, having been on the receiving end of a tremendous amount of help during the course of five years, eight major surgeries and countless hospitalizations of my six-year-old.
What I learned during those difficult times has served me well when my own friends have found themselves in similar situations, and so I want to share them with Mother’s Circle readers. Without further adieu, I’m pleased to present you with the top ten most important ways to help a friend whose child is facing a medical crisis:
10. DON’T ASK, DO TELL:
Don’t ask your friend: “How can I help you?” Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, your heart is in the right place – but you need to use your head on this one. This is your friend, after all. You should be able to anticipate his or her needs to a certain extent. Think about it before you ask, then propose a way you might be able to step in. Is it garbage night? Is one of their other kids on a travel soccer team? Is their business suffering as a result of their absence?
Figure out what might be the most efficient way to lighten their load, and propose it to them in a matter-of-fact way. “I’ll take Danny to and from his soccer game on Sunday, okay?” “Can I make those deposits for you so that payroll stays on track?” “I’d like to take your garbage out and bring your mail in while you’re at the hospital”. “I’d like to clean and disinfect your house so that it’s all ready for Katie when she gets home.”
Your friend will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind your good deed, given the state of mind he or she is probably in. The last thing a parent of a sick child has time to do is brainstorm ways for you to help them. Not to mention, many people have a difficult time asking for help in the first place. So eliminate that part of the equation by tweaking your offer from “What can I do?” to “Here’s what I plan to do – is it okay with you?” Guaranteed they will be eager to accept a well thought out offer to help.
9. OPEN YOUR EARS:
Resist the urge to talk and constantly advise when your friend is unloading to you. Unless they specifically call seeking advice, be the friend and confidant your were called to be. Processing the magnitude of a child’s poor health is extremely hard for a parent. Talking through it can be helpful in many ways. Sometimes just saying something out loud is a way for a parent to accept a recent diagnosis, a bad turn or an all around crappy day for their child. Listen to your friend when they are sharing their story with you.