17 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness During the Holidays

November 14, 2013

Several months ago I wrote a Thursday Health Thought that has remained one of my highest read posts and most commented on posts. The post discussed 26 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness and was widely appreciated by those who have a chronic illness and those who know someone with a chronic illness. A couple of weeks ago I started to receive some emails referencing that post and asking if there were any specific thoughts or ideas on how to reach out to someone with a chronic illness during the holidays. {Seriously?? Y'all are awesome!!}So today I wanted to share  17 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness During the Holidays and next week will share Christmas Present Ideas for a Friend with Chronic Illness!

I am not an expert at all, but the things that I have listed below are things that friends have mentioned to me that have been wonderful or I have personally experienced that have truly touched my heart and my life as a person who is seriously ill during the Holiday Season!

1. When hosting a party- offer some foods that your friend (who is on a special diet) can eat. 
Don't make this a big deal but try to incorporate snacks that you know your friend can eat.

2. When hosting a dinner party take the time to share with your Chronically Ill friend ahead of time the ingredients of all of your dishes. 

This will save your friend any awkwardness of having to ask questions in front of the other guests and like a burden at the party. 

3.Pray for your friend. 

The holidays can be stressful for people and this is especially true of those with chronic illnesses.

4. Offer to pick up presents for your friend.

These could be presents for their family and friends when you are going Christmas Shopping for your own family and friends. 

5. Help them decorate their house (or outside of their house). 

This offer can be truly priceless as decorating takes lots of energy. Maybe your family can make a Saturday of offering this to several families that you know. What a blessing this would be! (Also consider blessing families who can't afford a Christmas tree this year due to health costs with a tree!)

6. Help them take decorations down after the holidays! 

Just like #5 maybe this could be a Saturday project for your family or a group of friends! (And don't forget about disposing of the Christmas Tree!)

7. Be sensitive. 

Understand that money is tight and that the holidays are incredibly stressful for your friend. A gift exchange is fun, but for those with a chronic illness money can be overwhelming. Think of creative ways to host gift exchanges that don't cost much money.

8. Remember your neighbors! 

Helping those who are less fortunate, serving at the homeless shelter, etc. are all wonderful ideas BUT have you ever thought about serving those who are even closer to you? Your chronically ill friend is in serious need. Consider serving those closest to you this year!

9. Be Patient. 

Things may look different with your friend and family members who are seriously ill but remember that they are still the same person. Be patient with the changes.

10. Laugh often with your friend or family member. 

Maybe offer to bring over a comedy to watch together, send a funny card in the mail, or just leave a message that could bring a smile to their face!

11. Don't make it about you. 

Yes, the holiday season is about giving but be respectful of your friends wishes and desires. Maybe they really don't want you to come over at midnight to celebrate December 19th. (Yes, Hahaha that is a true story! *smiles*)

12. Consider starting new holiday traditions.

13. Take up a secret holiday collection and give it to your friend. 

14. Celebrate the simplicity of the holiday season. 

15. Be Thoughtful. 

Spread out the holiday activities to help your family member be able to join in on many things. (Instead of doing EVERY thing in one day maybe go caroling one night, Christmas shopping another day, etc.)

16. Be Compassionate. 

Does your friend have more pain or fatigue later in the evening? Consider hosting a brunch instead of a dinner! (Or vice versa!)

17. Realize that your friend or family member with chronic illness is the best gift this season. 

Their illness is forcing them to set limitations but the gift to you is remembering what is truly important in the holiday season. Celebrate PEOPLE. Not things or activities. At the end of the day people are the most important thing not whether or not you were able to buy every single gift in the world. 

What are some ways that you help a friend with a chronic illness during the holidays? 


  1. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing, Rebecca!

  2. Praying for you everyday, especially through the holiday season!

  3. These are wonderful. Thank you for sharing how we can serve those who are chronically ill, but so precious in worth!

  4. This is such a good reminder to be thoughtful and sensitive ~ thank you for this! And for the reminder to celebrate PEOPLE - not activities or festivities. Too often those can sadly become the focus during a holiday season.

    And congratulations on being part of the Handmade Holiday Gift Guide! What an honor!!