Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beyond Casseroles: Ways to Help the Chronically Ill

Good morning.

The last time I frequently saw 5:30 in the morning was when I was working late second shifts at Towne Air Freight, going out, and going to bed after the 5AM news. Now I'm waking UP then. Oh how life changes. {All said and done, however, I would choose where I am, AS I am, given the opportunity. I've come waaaaay too far to go back now!}

So I see this awesome book online by Lisa Copen, founder of Rest Ministries. (She also puts together HopeKeepers Magazine, and all of these ministries are affiliated with Joni and Friends. Lisa has done MUCH to bring Invisible Illness Awareness to the public at large, as well as offer MANY venues for the chronically ill to utilize. There are support groups, Illness Twitters, blogs, you name it. Thank you Lisa!)

Anyway...back to this book. It's called "Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend." I haven't gotten through all of them yet, but I would like to share some of my favorites. This book is such a blessing! Every church and ministry should have this book. I know that SO many folks WANT to help, they just don't always know what to do. And being the chronically ill person, sometimes it's hard enough to ask for help PERIOD, let alone specifically say things like, "could you please scrub my shower?"

* Ask, "What do you wish people knew about your illness?

* Instead of saying, "I will pray for you," say, "Can I pray with you right now?"

* Ask her to do spontaneous things...she may be more likely to participate since she knows if it's a good day or a bad day.

* Say, "While you're in the hospital, I'd be glad to take care of your pet."

* 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 using creative coupons. (There are some in the back of the book).

* Ask your church to add more disabled parking spaces. There are never enough.

* If it seems like something dramatic is always going on in her life, it just may be. Drug shortages, insurance issues--each are life-changing, and people with chronic illnes feel out of control most of the time.

*NEVER visit her if you think you may be getting a cold. {or if someone in your immediate family is sick}. If in doubt, give her a call.

* Take her kids for an afternoon or evening so she can have some much needed alone time, or go out with her spouse.

* Ask her if she has a list of things that need to be done {change a lightbulb, hang a picture} and help out when you're there.

* Offer to clean the shower stall or tub.

* Even if your friend lives with others, remember that she still may go days without speaking to anyone else. Send a card. Give her a call.

* For a special gift, ask her friends to write on an index card something your friend has done that has encouraged them: an encouraging word or Scripture, cartoon, or anything; then bind them in an album.

You can find this book and many more on chronic illness at It is so important for the chronically ill to not feel forgotten. It's so easy for everyone, myself included, to get in the mindset of "out of sight, out of mind." Chronic illness is just that, chronic. It doesn't go away. We live with it every day, every night, every week, every month. Through every anniversary, good and bad, through holidays and birthdays, weddings and funerals. We push through. A lot of time we fake it for the sake of others. We may not be feeling nearly as well as we are portraying ourselves to be.

To all my wonderful friends and family...I love you all, and I thank you for your prayers, and for being there for me. May God bless you as you have blessed me!


LRHG said...

I would add that this list applies to a lot of people - those in mourning, those coping with job loss, just plain overwhelmed moms. Most people will not call just because someone said "call me if you need something...." Too vague - too intrusive. (Although a good casserole sounds good too

Kerri said...

You are so right, Leah... There are LOTS of foks who could use some's like the Golden Rule, ya know? If everyone would do what THEY COULD for their fellowman...what a wonderful thing that would be!