It happens a lot.
All of the sudden, life kicks one of your friends or family members right in the rear. It appears that friend will be spending an undisclosed amount of time away from home…likely due to health issues. Perhaps they are healing themselves. Perhaps supporting a loved one (child, spouse, parent, etc.).
No matter what the situation, you know your friend needs to feel supported. But asking for help is not an easy thing to do, especially when feeling helpless yourself. As a friend, you want to help, but you aren’t sure what to do without someone telling you. So how can you help?
As the wife of a man who spent almost a month in a hospital…in a city hours away from our home, I’m here to give you some advice. Jeremy survived a head-on collision on the highway in 2012, and the support we received from family and friends is what kept us going.
Because “thank you” never seems sufficient, passing on the love and support to others is what we try hard to do. So let us help you with some ideas to suit any budget. Some of these ideas cost nothing but time, others cost more. Do what works for you!
Here is a list of the top ten most helpful and memorable “somethings” others did for us while we were fighting for health away from home:
- Gift Cards
I am especially a fan of prepaid Visa cards because you can use them anywhere. From gas for the vehicle to food and even clothing runs, gift cards are extremely helpful when you’re away from home.
- Hospital Cafeteria Gift Cards
This is one I never would have thought of. But a friend of the family contacted the hospital we were in and purchased a gift card to that hospital’s cafeteria. That was hugely helpful. I rarely wanted to leave Jeremy’s side, so having the option of eating with him, or very close to him, was so thoughtful. Then I was able to quickly return to my post…beside him.
- A Floor Mat
I know…sounds weird. But those hospital rollaway beds or chairs are horribly uncomfortable for those of us supporting a loved one. I actually purchased a floor mat for myself, but if I find that another person is having to stay in the hospital for as long as we did, I immediately think of this. I was able to roll up my comfy mat and tuck it away in a corner of the hospital room during the day. At night, I simply laid it out on the floor and slept so much better than I had pre-floor mat. And now, we use it as another bed when our boys have sleepovers!
Cliché? Perhaps. But having some life in the hospital room certainly brought some positivity to our days.
- Snail Mail Cards and Pictures
Yup…good old fashioned cards and pictures. We loved them. I decorated an entire wall in front of Jeremy with them. The bright colors and inspiring messages, especially those talking about how many prayers were being sent up, were so helpful to our moods. Oh…and never underestimate the power of a child’s drawing.
- Gift Basket of Relaxing Items
Ahhh the basket. I still remember digging into that thing like it was Christmas. We had been in the hospital for over a week with no end to our stay in sight. That basket arrived and I found slippers, crossword puzzles, journals, robes, blankets, stress balls, joke books, etc. Oh, it was a happy day. The sky is the limit here…make it personalized!
- Entertainment for the Family and Friends
Sometimes, if your friends are in a situation like we were, family and friends will visit for hours or even days at a time. We had small children when Jeremy had his accident…Hudson was five and Asher was two. One gift we received included games, toys, puzzles, colors and coloring books, and playing cards…great items for entertainment not only for us and our kids, but for other visitors as well.
- Clean House.
Yes, literally, clean house. When it was coming close to the time when we were expected to come home, a large number of friends and family went to our home and cleaned it from top to bottom. My sister-in-law and a friend deep cleaned the inside of our home while others picked up our landscaping…primarily leaves and cornstalks that had blown in the yard. Coming home to a clean house with no worries but to care for my family was an enormous weight off my shoulders.
- House Sit.
Offer to watch the pets, pick up mail, keep the house from smelling like a dungeon, etc. Having someone watching our home for anything odd and just keeping an eye out was a usual stressor I didn’t have to worry about.
- Freezer Meals
Coming home to a freezer stocked full of meals was incredible. Friends made meals and froze them. That way, when we came home, we were still being taken care of and could concentrate on healing. And it’s important to let your friend know that you are making meals. That way they know that food, upon arriving home, will not be a problem. It takes away a lot of stress.
So there you have it. Feel free to share our list and pass on the goodness to others! And never underestimate the power of prayer.
– Jeremy & Bailey Koch