Being a friend is tough enough when one of you is healthy and the other falls ill. It can be difficult to know what to do.
Should you visit them in the hospital? What should you bring them if they’re not eating? How often should you call and check in with them?
Here are some tips that can help you care for a sick friend:
1. Make Them Comfortable
The best thing you can do for a sick friend is to make them feel at ease in whatever situation they are in. Try to get them out of the current environment or get the necessary materials to avoid having to worry about certain tasks while focusing on recovery.
This way, you limit any stress and anxiety your friend might experience while ill. Their body can focus on getting better instead.
When you want to make them feel loved but can’t see them, you can send presents. A curated gift box service with self-care tools can make them feel loved.
2. Don’t Get Mad if They’re Cranky or Don’t Feel Like Doing Things
While you’d be happy to see your sick friend up and about, try to remember that it’s normal for them not to want to do certain activities when they are ill (such as talking on the phone, going out to eat/drink, etc.).
If possible, offer alternative plans of what you can do together while considering their feelings toward themselves and their circumstances.
However, don’t try to force them out of the house/bedroom if they’re not feeling well enough to move around. You can get a lot done without having someone constantly underfoot. But forcing someone weak and tired could lead to more complications such as relapse or illness-related injuries, which would be even harder for them to recover from.
3. Offer Help but Don’t Smother Them by Doing Everything for Them
Just because you want to help someone doesn’t mean you should cancel your already-scheduled plans to take care of them all day every day until they get better. Instead, try to find someone who can take over your duties while at work or otherwise occupied. This way, your friend does not feel guilty about asking for help.
You might even want to let them know that you’ll be asking around for other possible remedies and/or taking care of certain tasks, so they don’t have to worry while trying to get better. Remember, feeling guilty about asking for help is only counterproductive when it comes to the recovery process!
4. Don’t Take Things Personally When They Want/Need Some Space to Themselves
You wouldn’t mind spending time with them if they were feeling better, but you might be surprised too at how much rest sick people need to recover. Try not to take it personally when they don’t talk as much or prefer being alone for a while.
Don’t push them to provide updates every day/week/hour on how they are physically or mentally doing. Sick people probably won’t have the energy or motivation to reply every time you ask how they feel.
Even though it’s nice of you to inquire about their progress, try not to pester them too much. It will just stress both of you out further! If you really want updates, then try asking once a day or week instead of assuming that because your friend hasn’t said anything, they must be doing okay.
5. Let Them Know You’re There for Them
Even if you don’t feel like their behavior during this period is normal, it doesn’t change the fact that they are still recovering from something and need help to feel better again. Sometimes just being able to let loved ones know that they’ll have someone’s support can mean a lot more to a sick person struggling with their illness than an impersonal care package ever could.
Watch what you say, though. Try not to comment on how “sick” your sick friend looks because this can cause additional stress and anxiety, which will only slow down recovery time.
Additionally, avoid making comments about how much weight they’ve lost/gained or comparing them to others who are sick. Rather than comparing them to others, it’s probably better for you to focus on helping your friend with their unique situation.
When it comes to helping a sick friend, it’s best to remember that they’re still your friend, but you don’t need to treat them like a child. Let them know how much you care about them by checking in on how they’re doing every day. But most importantly, don’t worry too much! Friends will always have each other’s back.