Part of living a healthy life is being a good friend. Sometimes that becomes harder when a friend or family member is going through a chronic or severe illness. Here are some tips on how to be an advocate through your friend’s illness.
It is okay to be honest and acknowledge you don’t know what to say! It is important to just let her know you care. You can send her a card, note, or a text. You can take the time to call or simply sit with her in silence.
Offer to help in practical ways. Go beyond “Let me know if you need to help” to ask “How can I help you today?” Don’t forget about any household tasks he still needs to handle, such as laundry, cleaning, yard work, or caring for children. Offer to help with a grocery store run, a prescription pick up, or even show up with his favorite meal. However, be respectful of any dietary changes or limitations he may have as a result of the illness.
Does your friend have a support group? Consider going with him. You may feel awkward or nervous, but that is okay. It is his safe place, and you can learn a lot there as well. Likewise, be willing to go with him to a doctor’s appointment if he wants a second set of ears or a reassuring smile during the appointment.
Take the time to learn about the illness and its physical and mental impacts so you know what to expect. However, don’t believe everything you learn online and don’t offer to share everything you have learned. Your friend is likely more aware of the illness than you think, trusts his or her doctors fully, or may not be prepared yet to face every aspect of the illness.
Your friend is still your friend. She is more than her illness. Don’t forget what makes her special. It is okay to still smile and laugh with her. Also, encourage your friend; sometimes, “You are doing great!” is the thing she most needs to hear.