Most of us have had the opportunity to go and visit someone in the hospital. It can be a pleasant experience as they welcome you with a smile, or they may cry as you offer prayer and comfort. It can also be awkward. For those members in your church, all of these situations can be frightening. Despite the fact that yesterday you were easily conversing as you hit golf balls together, today, he sees you coming and plunges under the covers. Do people really want you to come see them in that scanty gown? Should you bring a card? A gift?
What are you supposed to talk about as the nurses breeze in and out of the room? Should you try to cheer the person up? Pray? Here are some suggestions from chronically ill people who have spent time in the hospital. Feel free to edit this to use in your church newsletter as a resource guide to better equip your church with some special tools.
“I wish people would just ask ‘What can I do to help?’ If they could just bring me a sandwich or make me some iced tea...little things. Words like, ‘I admire your strength in what you're going through’ would bring me comfort.” —Martha
“Someone brought me a little bottle of perfume and it just what I needed!” —Laurie
“When I am ill enough to be hospitalized, lots of visitors are not comforting. I feel I have to entertain. I prefer that they not stay too long and add to my distress. I do appreciate when they bring sources of spiritual healing, for example, a Guidepost magazine.” —Donna
“To keep me occupied in bed, I enjoy spiritual tapes to listen to and spiritual music to keep me occupied.” —Robin
“I have a friend who is a great laugher. It's infectious and I always feel better being around her.” —Martha
“I would like friends to say, ‘Is there anything I can do for you? I know that you are hurting; Could I say a little prayer for you to maybe ease the pain a little?’” —Judy
“I wish friends would offer their help and just call to say hi. Nice words are a pick-me-up. ‘You're in my prayers’ is a good one. It makes me realize that someone is praying for me. That seems better than praying by myself. The disease is lonely enough.” —Beverley
“The best gift while I was in the hospital was a box of crayons and a color book from my 5- year-old granddaughter.” —Marilyn
“Humor is always good (except just after surgery). I just had a spleenectomy and my friends came in and started cracking jokes thinking that making me laugh would be good. At that point it did make me laugh, but I ripped my stitches a bit and had lots of pain. So...” —Beverley
“My daughter sent updates to all of my on-line friends. Then she made copies of their encouraging words, scriptures, and prayers and brought them to the hospital.” —Martha
“Things that have brought me comfort were a new crochet book and a skein or yarn or thread, a pretty get-well card, a phone call from an old friend, some homemade cookies and can of soda.” —Judy
“I love to get mail, or pick up the phone to find a friend on the other end. I hope they understand that if I don't respond enthusiastically it may be that my medications have me kind of zoned out or I'm just having a bad day, but I always appreciate their call.” —Terry
“I enjoyed the candy, flowers, books, hand cream, shower things, perfume. My favorite gift though was a burger from my favorite fast-food restaurant.” —Beverley
“Having my husband be there as much as he could helped the most. When I was in pain, having my daughter and a friend rush to my side and pat me and show love helped so much.” —Martha
Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries, serving the chronically ill, and editor of HopeKeepers Magazine. http://www.restministries.org . Get 3 copies of her 94-page book Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend for just $10, http://www.comfortzonebooks.com
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