This past week, September 13th -19th, was National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week , sponsored by Rest Ministries . Nearly 1 in 2 people are living with a chronic condition, with about 96% of those people suffering silently with invisible illnesses. Therefore, the purpose of this worldwide effort, held annually in September, is to bring together those who live with invisible chronic illness and the people who love them. Organizations are also encouraged to educate the general public, churches, healthcare professionals and Government officials about the impact of living with a chronic illness that is not visually apparent. There are many ways to get involved in this campaign including blogging for the cause, joining the campaign on Facebook , completing & posting the meme '30 Things You May Not Know About My Invisible Illness , etc. Since I was not feeling well at all last week and was unable to participate, I decided that I would do a post in honor of it today, just a tad bit late. Since I completed and posted the '30 Things You May Not Know About My Invisible Illness' meme last year and then revised and reposted it in June for the Day of Visibility , I decided to repost another favorite post of mine....
50 WAYS TO ENCOURAGE A CHRONICALLY ILL FRIEND
I recently saw this article on the REST MINISTRIES website. I thought it was really neat and would be very helpful for those who have a close friend or family member who is chronically ill.
Being sick, homebound and bedridden has made me feel increasing isolated and lonely. Most of the time, I just don't feel up to having visitors but yet I still feel lonely. It's kind of hard to explain, but I'm sure there are others out there who are experiencing these same feelings.
Since I became sick, I have slowly lost contact with most of my 'real life' friends. All of my closest friends know how much I dislike talking on the phone. (That has been the case long before I became so sick.) I think that, coupled with the fact that they know how extremely sick I've been, has caused most of them to fade into the background.
Occasionally, I will get an email or my husband will get a phone call from one of our friends saying they really want to come visit and/or help in some way but they just haven't known what to do. When that happens, it is usually difficult to think of something to say or to be open and admit that there IS something we need.
I'm sure we are not alone, so I thought I would share this really great list I found with you. I think it might be helpful for those of you who have a loved one who is ill and you have been searching for some way to show them you care and would like to help.
Lois Wyse once said, 'A good friend is a connection to life - a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.'
Little ways of reaching out make all of the difference to someone who is hurting, especially when the illness is chronic. It's rarely the "size" of the task, but the simple fact that you made an effort and remembered him or her in your thoughts.
Here are 50 creative ways to encourage a chronically ill friend, excerpted from 'Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend' by Lisa Copen.
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1. Ask, "What events in your life are changing and how are you coping with the changes?"
2. Understand that she lives in a constant state of making decisions for which there is no guarantee that she is making the right choice.
3. Offer to bring meals and put them in disposable containers. Attach a note saying "This doesn't need to be returned."
4. Add stickers to envelopes for a cheerful touch.
5. Arrange for your friend's kids to have a night with your children.
6. Don't make a person into a project.
7. Ask, "Would you be willing to talk to a friend of mine who has recently been diagnosed with a chronic illness and offer her some encouragement?" It makes one feel good to know that her experience can offer someone else hope and that God still has a purpose for her life.
8. Wash his car and put a little note inside for him to find later.
9. Remember important anniversaries, both the good and the bad. No one else will.
10. Ask, "Do you want company the day that you wait for the test results? I could come over for a couple of hours."
11. "No matter how little you have, you can always give some of it away." ~ Catherine Marshall. Just listen . . . until it hurts to not say anything. And then listen some more.
12. Ask her, "How do you feel God is working through-or despite-this illness in your life? I'm interested."
13. Ask, "What do you wish people understood about your illness?"
14. Don't make her feel guilty about things that she cannot do.
15. Treat her to a gift of movie rentals via postal mail through a service ($7-15 a month).
16. Ask, "Would you be comfortable with having your name on a prayer list, so that others can pray for you?" Don't assume.
17. Instead of saying, "I will pray for you," say, "I'd like to pray for you right now, if that's okay."
18. Mop the floors.
19. Ask if she would be interested in writing something for the church newsletter, maybe even about the subject of living with chronic illness.
20. Buy a brightly colored umbrella as a gift.
21. Ask, "Do you have an errand I can run for you before coming over?"
22. Ask her to do spontaneous things, like go to a concert in the park, or just for a picnic. She may be more likely to participate since she knows if it's a good day or a bad day. Don't be upset if she has to say no.
23. Don't say, "So, why aren't you healed yet?" or "I wonder what God is trying to teach you that you just aren't learning!"
24. For a unique gift, provide brightly colored paper plates, napkins, and utensils in a gift bag with a note that says "For when you don't feel like doing dishes."
25. Get her a pretty box to keep all of her notes of encouragement. Remind her to get it out and read things when she is feeling down.
26. Be her advocate. If you are at an event and walking/seating is an issue because of her disability, ask her if she'd like you to take care of it. If she says you can, be firm but not rude. Don't embarrass her by making accusations of discrimination or by making a scene.
27. Ask, "Would you be interested in a prayer partner from our church?"
28. Purchase matching coffee mugs for you and your friend, and then commit to pray for one another each morning while using them.
29. Say, "While you're in the hospital I'd be happy to take care of your pet."
30. Don't tell her about your brother's niece's cousin's best friend who tried a cure for the same illness and. . . (you know the rest).
31. Find out which charity is most important to her and then give a donation in her honor.
32. Ask, "What are your top three indulgences?" and then spoil her soon.
33. Hold the door open for her. They are heavy!
34. Don't tease her and call her "hop along" or "slowpoke." Comments you mean in fun can cut to the quick and destroy her spirit. Proverbs 18:14 says, "A man's spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?"
35. Say, "I know you must need someone to just vent to occasionally. I may not fully understand how you feel, but I'm here to listen anytime."
36. Ask your church youth group to come over and clean up the yard during seasonal changes.
37. Don't ask her, "How are you able to make it financially?" If she wants to share a burden she will.
38. Ask, "What would you advise me to look for in a new doctor?"
39. If your friend has a disabled parking placard and you are driving, allow her to tell you where she wants to park. If she's feeling particularly good that day, she may not want to park in the "blue space." Don't be disappointed that you'll have to walk farther.
40. Don't gossip about others. She'll wonder what you say about her. "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29)
Proverbs 25:11 says, "A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Be kind, gentle, and respectful.
41. Accept that her chronic illness may not ever go away. If she's accepting it, don't tell her the illness is winning and she's giving in to it.
42. Don't say, "Let me know if there is anything I can do." People rarely feel comfortable saying, "Yes, my laundry." Instead pick something you are willing to do and then ask her permission. Try the coupon in back!
43. Ask her to share her testimony at an event.
44. Buy a magazine subscription for her on her favorite topic.
45. Plant a rosebush to view from a window.
46. Understand that you don't need to know all of the details about the illness in order to be helpful. He'll share with you what he's comfortable with you knowing.
47. Don't ask, "Why can't the doctors help you?" or insinuate that it must be in her head. There are millions of people who are in pain with illnesses that do not have cures.
48. Avoid having gifts be "pity gifts." Just say, "I saw these flowers and their cheerfulness reminded me of you."
49. Send tapes of church services your friend misses to her with a copy of the bulletin and a note.
50. If she doesn't have a cordless phone, get her one. Phone headsets are also nice.
That's 50! Do you have any special ways you have reached out to someone special in your life who has been in need due to a long-term illness or injury?
To learn more about National Invisible Illness Awareness Week, click HERE . Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you have an amazing week!