The Do’s and Don’ts of Supporting Families in Their Time of Need

8 Jan

I’ve been in and out of hospitals with my kids for years, and I always wholeheartedly appreciated our support system. We really have amazing family and friends. I can’t IMAGINE what our lives would be like without them.

I’m getting a little choked up just thinking of it.


Jackson’s support system…always right behind him.

Like how…

My brother took on the role of “communications director” when Jackson was first sick – I couldn’t tell people what was going on so he did it for me. My mom and mother-in-law would alternate staying with me and Jackson during hospital stays. My dad would bring us Chick-fil-a on his lunch break because it was all Jackson wanted to eat. My sister would drive me over to the NICU at 11pm to sit with me while I nursed Abby. Ev’s grandmother would cook us a huge pot of Chicken and Pastry to come home to after a long day at the hospital.

We’ve had dinners, balloons, cards, money, fundraisers, care packages and gift cards sent to us from all over. I can’t tell you how much it meant to feel so loved and supported. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? To let the person know you’re right there with them?

But it can be awkward trying to figure out where to plug in…and not wanting to intrude…so I wanted to start the discussion based on my experiences. Here’s a quick list of my honest Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Don’t show up unexpected, ever.
  • Do offer to set up a way for others to get updates (CaringBridge, Facebook pages, Email Lists, Prayers Chains). Communicating with the masses is overwhelming.
  • Don’t stay long for a visit, unless specifically asked to do so.
  • Do take charge of something like a schedule of who will cut their grass, watch their pets, clean the house or cook dinner.
  • Don’t visit if you’re sick. Not even a little cough or runny nose.
  • Do approach the idea of a fundraiser cautiously. Some people love help and some feel terrible even thinking of it. If you decide to raise money, do something that doesn’t require a lot of work on the patient or caregiver’s end. Their plates are full already.
  • Don’t ask a whole lot of intruding questions. Just because you care to know doesn’t mean you’re allowed to know.
  • Do continue to show you’re thinking of them. The shock eventually wears off, but the marathon continues. Cards, voice mails, flowers, balloons or even a quick email.
  • Don’t get your feelings hurt if you don’t receive a personalized thank you note. You’ll get a heartfelt thank you, but it probably will be in the form of a hug or text. We’re grateful, just weary.
  • Do offer hope and love and prayers. Leave the negativity at home. Anything that comes from the heart is always welcome.
  • Don’t force your treatment opinions or beliefs. Offer advice, don’t force advice. Just because some diet, surgery, doctor or treatment worked for you or your brother or your best friend’s uncle’s cousin…doesn’t mean it will work for us.
  • Do know whatever you do, big or small, is always appreciated.

Do you have something to add? Feel free to share!



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