A family’s daily routines can come to a screeching halt when they are nursing a sick child whose path to recovery involves a lengthy hospital stay. All the stress and pressures of caring for an ailing child can take a toll on any parent’s physical, mental and financial well-being.
Quite often, it’s the strong support of family and friends that will help couples get through these tough times. Yet, many people are too embarrassed to ask for help, or are afraid that they might be imposing on others. And close friends or family — on the other hand — may not know how to offer assistance to their friend in their time of need. Depending on how close you are to the parent, here are some practical suggestions on how you can help…
Many people are too embarrassed to ask for help, or are afraid that they might be imposing on others.
1. Don’t say, “Let me know if you need any help…” Take the initiative and think about what sort of help your friend may need and whether you can provide that kind of assistance. Remember, your friend might be too swamped or embarrassed to inconvenience you with their requests. Also, don’t offer help you can’t maintain over a period of time, especially as your friend’s child may need to be hospitalised.
2. Ask before popping by Always ask if it’s a good time to drop by for a visit. When you do, keep your visit short. Don’t expect to be entertained, either ― be the one who initiates conversation.
3. Research and share what you’ve learnt Whenever your friend gives you an update about her child’s condition, try to do your own research before asking questions. Better yet, use what you’ve found out to offer possible questions or leads they should ask their doctor to look into.
4. Set up a private chat group for updates Your friend will likely be inundated with phone calls and messages asking for updates. So, if you share the same mutual friends, it might help if you take the initiative to set up a private chat group, so everyone is updated at the same time.
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5. Help with household tasks Whether its feeding their pet, watering their plants or picking up groceries, any chore you complete is one less headache/worry your friends will have to deal with.
6. Offer to look after her other children Take on carpooling responsibilities and ferry your friend’s other kids to and from school or look after them when your mummy pal is in the hospital. This will relieve her of having to constantly worry about her other children.
Sometimes, saying something out of courtesy or good intentions can actually make matters worse.
7. Don’t compare your friend’s experiences to someone else’s No two persons’ treatment will be the same though they may suffer from the same condition. In fact, relating a story with a positive outcome may have the opposite effect.
8. When in doubt, stay silent and listen Resist the urge to say something to help your pal feel better about the situation. Sometimes, saying something out of good intentions can actually make matters worse. What’s more, your friend’s probably only looking for someone who will listen to her thoughts.
9. Stand a message of support even if it goes unanswered Try to keep track of the ailing child’s major test and surgery dates, then drop your friend a text or call if you can. This reminds them that they are not alone in this ordeal.
10. Don’t invite her for social gatherings Remember that your friend is not in the mental or emotional state to “have fun” or to “take a break” and “get some fresh air” when her child is unwell. Instead, offer to watch her kid ― in the ward or at her place ― while she nips out for a meal or a walk.
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