When someone we know faces a serious illness, most of us find it hard to know what to do. Feeling helpless and uncertain, we say, “If you need anything just call,” but we know that’s not really enough. Here is a collection of truly useful ideas you can use to show your concern and support for people who are close to you. •

1. Don’t avoid me. Be the friend, the loved one you’ve always been.

2. Touch me. A simple squeeze of the hand tells me you still care.

3. Call and tell me you’re bringing over my favorite dish. Bring food in disposable containers so I won’t worry about returning them.

4. Watch my children while I take a little time to be alone with my loved one. My children may also need a vacation from my illness.

5. Cry with me when I cry and laugh with me when I laugh. Don’t be afraid to share these emotions with me. Pain isolates. Help me reconnect with others.

6. Take me out for a pleasure trip, but I know my limitations.

7. Call for my shopping list, and make a special delivery to my home.

8. Before you visit, call to let me know, but don’t be afraid to visit. I told you I can get lonely.

9. Help me celebrate holidays (and life) by decorating my hospital room or home, or by bringing me flowers or other natural treasures.

10. Help my family. Invite them out. Take them places. I am sick, but they may be suffering also. Offer to come and stay with me to give my loved ones a break.

11. Be creative. Bring me a book of thoughts, taped music, a poster for my wall, cookies to share with my family and friends.

12. Let’s talk about it. Maybe I need to talk about my illness. Find out by asking, “Do you feel like talking about it?”

13. Don’t always feel we have to talk. Sitting quietly together is fine. Your presence confirms that I’m still important and alive.

14. Can you take me and/or my children somewhere? I may need transportation to a treatment, to the store, or to my physician.

15. Help me feel good about myself by looking past my appearance.

16. Please include me in decision making. I’ve been robbed of so may things. Don’t deny me a chance to make decisions in my family and in my life.

17. Talk to me about the future. Tomorrow, next week, next year. Hope is so important to me.

18. Bring a positive attitude. It’s catching. Help me respect reality.

19. What’s in the news? Magazines, photos, newspapers, and verbal reports keep me from feeling the world is passing me by.

20. Could you help me with some cleaning? During my illness my family and I still face dirty clothes, dirty dishes, and a dirty house.

21. Water my flowers. 22. Just send a card to let me know you care.

23. Pray for me and share your faith with me. 24. Tell me how you’d like to help me, and when I agree, please do so.

kidsholdinghands 25. Tell me about support groups so I can share with others.

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