You get the news that a friend received a diagnosis or a call that will change their lives. Let it also change yours. Get engaged. Love is an action verb. This is not a time to be passive!
First, pray for them
Second, listen to them, hug them, cry with them - do not offer advice unless asked. When we are most broken, we just need a shoulder to cry on and someone to empathetically listen. Don't pretend to have the words. It is OK to say "I don't know what to say but I love you." Do not tell them either a positive or negative outcome of someone else you know or have heard of.
Third, create a plan of action with them.
Ask if they want to be part of the care plan or if they want someone else to make the decisions for them. Sometimes managing details is overwhelming and it is best to have someone else take the lead and wait for further input as they are able.
Focus on the basics
Ask specific questions - insurance, deductibles, out of pocket, etc.
Find a tool to raise money - gofundme, friends/family, intentional legacy, etc. (do research on how much it will cost to use the tool and if there is a tax deduction benefit for the givers or a tax penalty for the recipient)
Gas gift cards, Amazon gift cards, are encouraging and very useful.
Ask specific questions - allergies, preferences, schedule, meals, snacks. Not everyone loves mac & cheese, lasagna and casseroles :-)
Consider the entire family - spouse, children are struggling through this situation as well.
Set up a meal train - assign someone besides the family as the point person
Restaurant gift cards, grocery cards, grubhub, etc. are fantastic options
Uber gift cards are great for treatment days - because “hospital food” isn’t always the happiest choice
Spouse & Children
Ask specific questions - activities, work requirements, school requirements, childcare for doctor appts.
Check in with them independently throughout the process
Find ways to love/bless/encourage them - individually
Intentionally reaching out to family members: take them out to eat, come alongside to do Bible study, be their personal uber - this helps the children and the parents! (There is much guilt when all attention has to be on one person - and spreading the love is a great antidote!)
Ask specific questions - how much do they want to be public knowledge, what is their preferred way to communicate, do they want to communicate with people directly or do they need to have a buffer for questions and updates
It can get overwhelming when texts and calls start pouring in. Start your text with - "don't worry about texting me back.”
Have a list of their inner circle of family/friends and a list of their health care providers.
Ask specific questions - do they need drivers to go back and forth to appointments, children need rides, pick up prescriptions, groceries or whatever. Obviously, it’s a blessing that there are other transportation options available - but if there is an immediate need, how could it be met?
Do they need gas cards to help offset that expense? Can you wash their car, fill it up with gas or help with maintenance?
Ask specific questions - do they need someone to sit with them after specific procedures, do they need bedding changed, no they need medication to be administered, etc.
Other areas of service
Remember that everyone receives help differently. What might be helpful for you, may not be helpful to the other person.
Some people are more private than others - ask them if they want you to do their laundry or clean their house - then graciously accept their answer
Take notes - ask questions
Remember their treatment schedule and try to intentionally bless them around those days.
Do not grow weary - endure with them - the middle part of the journey can be the hardest. It is easy to move on with your own life and the care can grow dim - stay engaged!!
In many ways, you can serve as a buffer for them for the incidentals, the little things that make a huge difference! You can be a bright spot in their journey!! This is what we are created to do - love others the way we want to be loved!
This document was created based on personal experience and feedback from others who are walking or have walked a hard journey. It is applicable to sickness, death of a loved one or many other situations. The bottom line is love is an action and we are called to love others well!