How do you help someone going through a situation you’ve never encountered? While medical adversity touches nearly every family, it’s still easy to feel unsure of how to help a family that has to spend extended or regular stays at the hospital. It’s also easy to feel like the family is too far away to practically help or visit (out-of-state stays aren’t uncommon with certain specialists).
We recently wrote about the Osborn family and their story with Hyper-IgM syndrome. They are such an example of holding on to hope while having their life turned upside-down and caring for Charlie at a hospital more than 10 hours away from their house. They admitted that involving others that want to help is one of the hard parts of their journey, and they were also gracious enough to share some of the things that are most helpful for them.
#1: Send a Message (Call, Text, or Send a Card)
The Osborn’s have been encouraged by the many calls and text messages that people have sent to encourage and check on them. The voice or words of a friend can mean a lot in a time when it’s easy to feel alone or isolated. As Bob Goff mentioned in our interview with him, you don’t need to have anything clever to say. People just want to know that they’re loved and cared for.
#2: Send Something to Do
One challenge in being at a hospital is the limited space and scenery. For the Osborn family, toys have been appreciated because they are new and helpful in keeping Charlie’s attention. I imagine that this would carry over for any family, regardless of the child’s age. Similarly, you could also send a Kiwi Crate (they make variations for all ages) that includes everything you need for a fun craft in a box. Other ideas of things to “do” might be books, coloring supplies, movies, games, musical instruments (in moderation), dolls, or stuffed animals. What does the family you know love to do? What activities to they enjoy? You can be creative with this one.
#3: Send a Gift Card
Stumped on what to send? A gift card is a great way to help if you’re unsure of what a family needs or might like. From Visa to Amazon to Groceries and everything in between, you can’t beat the flexibility of a gift card.
#4: Send a Treat
What kind of special treat would encourage a family and give them that feeling of comfort or home? You have to look carefully at the pricing, but I learned recently that Amazon sells Lindt Truffles (milk chocolate sea salt, anyone?) and will ship them in a way so that they don’t melt. Super cool. It may be candy, tea, snacks, or something else, but a taste of home is a tangible reminder of love. Even practical items like fun socks, toothbrush and toothpaste, or lotion can be a pick-me-up when a family is away from the comforts of home.
#5: Send… You!
While a road trip or plane ride may not be practical for everyone, showing up in person is hard to beat in telling someone you care. A face-to-face conversation about the little things going on, or just sitting by someone’s side and holding a hand or lending a shoulder is one of the best ways to help. Spreading hope is about loving people exactly where they are. Sometimes we need to go there and just sit for a while.
Thank you to the Osborn’s for the practical tips, and thank you to this community for wanting to spread hope. If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy our posts covering seven ways to help a family facing medical challenges or three ways to make a child laugh at the doctor’s office.
Spread hope (in the comments):
What’s the best thing someone has ever sent you to cheer you up?
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