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guide for helping family and friends in difficult times

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					                                            happened to …”. Avoid easy
                   Yes, You Can             reassurances like “God will take care
                                            of her” or glib statements like “I know
                       Help:                how you’re feeling”. You probably
                                            don’t know the feeling.
               A guide for
helping family and friends                  Touch me. A simple squeeze of the
                                            hand can tell me you still care.
     in difficult times
                                            Weep with me when I weep; laugh with
Most of us very much want to do
                                            me when I laugh. Don’t be afraid to
something to help when a family
member or friend has a seriously ill        share feelings with me.
child. We often don’t do anything
more than stammer: “Just call if I can      Allow your friend to express feelings
                                            even hard ones. Don't try to get
help” because we are afraid of
saying or doing the wrong thing.            him/her to be more realistic or
                                            positive. Remember, grief takes many
Comfort and support are true acts of
                                            forms other than sadness - anger,
friendship.
                                            guilt, numbness, bitterness to name a
They come from being sensitive to the       few.
special needs of your friend. They
                                            Call before you visit but don’t be
come from finding ways to make
                                            afraid to visit. Sometimes we are
things just that little bit easier. Below
                                            lonely.
you will find ideas about how to
                                            Maybe I need to talk about my child’s
comfort and support. Some come from
staff, those in italics come from a         illness. Find out by saying, “Do you feel
                                            like talking about it?”
parent.

Helpful approaches:                         Listen if your friend wants to talk but
                                            don’t push for answers. Take your
Don’t avoid me. Be the friend or loved      lead from the person. Some people
one you’ve always been.                     want to talk of nothing but their child.
                                            If this is so, be a patient, generous
Get in touch. If you are unable to          listener.
make telephone contact, write a note.
Ask about visiting or having lunch          What’s in the news? Magazines,
together somewhere close to the             photos, newspapers, verbal reports
hospital or home. As an alternative         keep me from feeling the world is
ask if you can bring a “picnic” to the      passing me by.
hospital.
                                            Sometimes people want to hear about
Just send a card to say, “I care”.          the normal parts of life. They want to
                                            use the time to get back in touch with
Express your genuine feelings with          the world outside the hospital. If this is
simple words: “I’m so sorry this has

                                                               Family Support Program
                                                         NONA Child Development Centre
                                                                     www.nona-cdc.com
so, try to keep note of all the small
happenings which might be of interest.        Give the parents an evening out together
                                              by arranging for someone to baby sit
But don’t chatter about a soccer game         their other children at home, while you
or a movie when your friend is                visit with the sick child.
obviously feeling down.
                                              Could you help me with some cleaning?
Bring my family a positive attitude. It’s     During my child’s illness, we will face dirty
                                              clothes, dirty dishes, a dirty house.
catching!
                                              Water my flowers.
Talk to me about the future …
tomorrow, next week, next year. Hope          Call me to say you’re bringing our
is so important to me.                        favourite dish and what time you are
                                              coming. Bring food in disposable
Be reassuring. Your friends are having        containers so I won’t worry about returns.
to make many difficult decisions –
choices about treatment options,              Call for my shopping list and make a
dividing time between sick and well           “special delivery” to my home.
children, being here or being there.
                                              Can you take me or my children
Don’t increase their stress by
                                              somewhere? We may need transportation
questioning their decisions. Friends          to a treatment, to the store, to the doctor.
often do this without meaning to. They
suggest other kinds of treatments,            Offer to do something concrete like
they tell stories of what happened to         grocery shopping, babysitting,
others that are heard as warnings.            carpooling, etc. Bake a batch of
What your friends need is to know             lunchbox cookies, make a meal
that they are doing the very best for         occasionally. Ask your friend to give you
their child. Helpful deeds:                   a list o f specific chores that need doing
For the family:                               from which you can select one or two. If
                                              this is not forthcoming, just do something
Only one in my family is sick, but everyone   without being asked.
may be suffering. Invite others in my
family out. Take them places.                 Ask if there are others whom your friends
                                              would like you to contact on their behalf.
Take care of my children for me. I need a
little time to be alone or with my loved
one.                                          For the sick child:

Comfort the other children in the family.     Be creative! Bring a book of thoughts,
Do something nice with, or for, them.         taped music, a poster for the wall, cookies
Perhaps include them in one of your           to share … or a friend who hasn’t yet
family outings.                               come to visit.

Offer to visit with the sick child for an     Send the sick child a card, a picture
hour or two so that the parents can take      drawn by your own children, or any
a break or arrange an outing with their       small token of your affection. However,
other children.                               too many big presents may make it hard

                                                                   Family Support Program
                                                             NONA Child Development Centre
                                                                         www.nona-cdc.com
for parents to keep a balance between
giving the sick child some joy and making           Help my family celebrate holidays (and
the child feel that suddenly he can have            life!) by decorating my child’s hospital
everything.                                         room, my home, or bringing tiny gifts of
                                                    flowers or other natural treasures.
Help my child feel good about her looks.
Tell her how good she looks, considering            GOOD FRIENDS WARM MY HEART.
the illness.


These things would be particularly helpful to me:




Develope d by the Department of Patient/Family Education, BC Children’s Hospital




                                                                       Family Support Program
                                                                 NONA Child Development Centre
                                                                             www.nona-cdc.com

				
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posted:12/20/2011
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