Caravan Sonnet: 15 Ways to Help a Friend with a Chronic Illness during Thanksgiving

11/5/15

15 Ways to Help a Friend with a Chronic Illness during Thanksgiving


Two years ago, I wrote a post that has remained one of my most popular posts which discussed 26 Ways to Help a Friend with Chronic Illness. It was widely appreciated by those who have a chronic illness and those who love someone with a chronic illness.  As time went on I started to receive some emails asking if there were any specific thoughts or ideas on how to reach out to someone with a chronic illness during the holiday season. (Y'all are AWESOME. SERIOUSLY. I LOVE emails like this- such an encouragement to my little heart!) So I wrote a post entitled, 17 ways to help a friend with Chronic Illness during the Holidays.  (There is also a 30 Christmas Present Idea list for a friend with Chronic Illness that can be found HERE if you are interested!) And last year I shared 15 ways to help a friend with a chronic illness during the thanksgiving season.

As we have entered into November and with Thanksgiving quickly approaching in a few short weeks I wanted to re-share this list. I hope that this list helps! 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 has truly touched my heart and my life during this holiday season. So (in no specific order) here are 15 ideas to help a loved one with a chronic illness during the Thanksgiving holiday!

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

2. When hosting a dinner party (or a get together) 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 feel like a burden at the party. 

3. 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 (or leftovers) that you know your friend can eat.

4. Be sensitive. Understand that money is tight and that the holidays are incredibly stressful for your friend. Hosting a thanksgiving get together (even if it is "their year") can be extremely taxing on those suffering with chronic illness. I know I was told by one friend, "if it was just us, we would be eating eggs and toast because money is so tight but instead we have been missing treatments, not buying supplements, etc. for a couple of months just to save up to feed the family because it is our responsibility this year". Yikes! Unfortunately this is the case all too often. Be incredibly sensitive to the time, energy, and money that may be spent and try and help out with any (or all!) of these things! 

5. 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!

6. Offer to go grocery shopping (and pay for the groceries) for your friend. This was such a great idea! Shopping is absolutely exhausting for a chronically ill person, but during the holidays it can be truly detrimental. Not only are their long lines and tons of people but often times there is more of a chance of someone picking up germs due to these large crowds.  You most likely are already going to the store- why not ask your friend what you can pick up for them? Another idea? Why not get double of everything you are getting and then drop it off at their house (with the receipt). They will keep what they can use and exchange anything that can't be used. Such a simple but helpful thing for those who are ill!

7. 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.

8. 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!


9. 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 Thanksgiving Eve (or Thanksgiving Eve Eve...Yes, Hahaha that is a true story! *smiles*)


10. Consider starting new holiday traditions. Yes, you have stuffed yourselves with Turkey and always played flag football for the whole afternoon finishing the day off with a movie marathon and then starting your all day Christmas shopping at midnight on Black Friday and that has been wonderful for years (or decades or generations) BUT... just typing that list is exhausting let alone being able to do 1/2 of those things for a chronically ill person. Why not start new holiday traditions while keeping the old ones? BE Creative. BE open. Your love and compassion will be the best holiday gift you could give someone. 

11. Take up a secret holiday collection and give it to your friend before Christmas. Why not surprise your friend with an early Christmas present and give it to them at Thanksgiving. Believe me... they are not going to be spending it on themselves unless it is for treatment but even then they probably will use it to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones. 


12. Celebrate the simplicity of the holiday season. Holidays are about PEOPLE. NOT a tradition or a pinterest worthy house... but people. Spend the energy and love on the people who are hurting. 


13. Be Thoughtful. This is how I describe things to those who don't know me sometimes. "Remember how poorly you felt when you had the flu last year? Remember the headache and the backache you had last week? Remember when you had mono as a college student? Put all of them together and times it by ten and you have close to what I am feeling all of the time. Now if you felt that way... what would you like to do for the holidays?" Be thoughtful - put yourself in the others persons shoes. 


14. 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!)


15. 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. 

12 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. I love all of these suggestions. Someone grocery shopping for me? Deep sigh , wonderful thought indeed

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    1. Wouldn't someone doing grocery shopping be the ultimate??! I LOVED that idea! *deep sigh* *smiles* I was thinking about that last night as I felt a tiny bit stronger and able to ride in the car. There is NO way that I could have gotten anything at the grocery store- I was so thankful for my mom! I love this idea and hope that more people will consider it!!
      :) Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca
      p.s.- I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" and I wasn't able to. I hope to connect more in the future!

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  2. These are so great! Grocery shopping is so helpful! I can only ever pick up one or two items at a time, which seems like a whole wasted trip when I've gone to all of the trouble to go to the store!

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    1. Oh I know Sarah!! I am the EXACT same way. It takes so much energy to get to the store and then by the time I am in there the store seems SO huge that it is impossible to get everything that I need! When a friend mentioned grocery shopping I was nodding my head and saying an "amen"!!!

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I hope that you have a wonderful weekend.

      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  3. I'll definitely be sharing this and also your Christmas gift guide! Thank you so much for compiling this, and all your lists. They are SO helpful for people like me to pass along to loved ones. <3

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    1. Thank you so much Kacie! I pray that both are a blessing!! Thank you for taking the time to comment and for letting me know!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca :)

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  4. You have lovely advice. I had a friend with cancer. We worked together and we were very close. We would have sleepovers (I know, I'm probably too old for sleepovers and she was too but we lived an hour away from eachother) and we went to Florida together. That's actually when she realized something was wrong. Weird things were happening, like she couldn't write her name, other weird things. I urged her to see a Dr. as soon as we got back and she had a tumor and cancer. She died within a year. Broke my heart. I don't know anyone right now who is terminal but your words ring true. (Since I can't figure out how to turn off the "no reply" thing. my email is jjoliet(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Jennifer, I am so so very sorry to hear about your friend that you lost to Cancer. I can't even begin to imagine. I am so glad that in the midst of her pain she had a friend like you to walk that hard path with. Thank you for being such a good friend to her! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and to share part of your story. Thank you for your comment that truly was meaningful and touched and encouraged me.
      Many Blessings,
      Rebecca

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  5. I plan to do the grocery thing for my friend. I know it would help her. Thanks for the reminders.

    slehan at juno dot com

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    1. What an amazing friend you are to do the grocery shopping for a friend! As the comments above mentioned this will be a HUGE blessing! Thank you so much for helping your friend and sharing with us!
      Blessings,
      Rebecca

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  6. I really like your comment about "Celebrate the simplicity of the holiday season" I'm pretty sure when it comes to the end, friends and family are all that really matter. Quality time spent with them is probably the most important thing one could give.

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    1. Thank you Jennifer!! I really do believe that the most important thing in life is PEOPLE. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and leave such a sweet note!
      Blessings, Rebecca
      p.s.- I would have loved to email you back directly but unfortunately you are a "no reply blogger" and I wasn't able to. I hope to connect more in the future!

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