Twelve Ways to Support Someone Facing Surgery or Illness

Your spouse, family member, best friend or colleague is facing illness or surgery. What do you say? How do you really support them? We all want to help; yet many times don’t know what to say.

We want to take them a gift, yet the traditional gift of flowers may not be appropriate. Many times after surgery, the senses are highly sensitive and the smell of flowers may be overpowering.

  1. See if they are being supported emotionally and spiritually. The medical system does not always provide comfort in these areas. Offer to start a support team or prayer group. You can call people and ask them to pray according to their faith.
  2. Please don’t say, “I understand.” Unless you are in their shoes, you don’t.
  3. Hang in there with them. This may bring up your own fears. Supportive friends don’t disappear when it gets tough.
  4. When you don’t know what to say simply say, “I don’t know what to say – what can I do for you?” or “I am sorry.”
  5. Offer to run specific errands. Do they need groceries? Do they have videos to return? Can you pick up books at the library?
  6. Understand that they may need some space to process and be alone and they don’t always know how to ask for help.
  7. Take them an angel, or cross or some type of spiritual or religious gift. Help them separate their Being from their disease.
  8. Don’t offer to make donations to organizations unless they suggest. They may not want to be reminded of what they went through or support any organizations.
  9. If there is a support group for what they are going through and they feel it would help, offer to go with them to the first meeting.
  10. Ask them what book they have always wanted to read. Do they have a copy? Buy and deliver the book to them.
  11. Great gifts include a treat (if they are not on a special diet) a dessert, fruit, organic coffee or tea; a beautiful journal and pen to record their thoughts in.
  12. Please allow them to feel what they are feeling. Don’t say things like “cheer up” or “you shouldn’t feel that way.”

This information is based on research and feedback from colleagues and friends who faced dis-ease and my own personal medical adventures. Because emotions come up during any type of illness, it is helpful to remember that the Spirit of the person is not the dis-ease itself. People may process and handle information in many different ways. A colleague of mine did not want to know anything other than what the doctor said and followed that advice. Speaking from my own experience, I wanted to know everything and researched holistic and complementary medicines.

Observing other patients in the hospital, I saw that people who had the opportunity to prepare before surgery began to heal almost immediately post-surgery.

One of the best gifts you can give someone who is physically able is to give them a “day of their choice.” Whatever that means to them – perhaps a massage, day at the beach, hiking in the mountains, afternoon tea, a great dinner. Treat them and take care of the arrangements. Just listen and allow them to be. They will be grateful that you took the time and it will help tremendously with their emotional, mental and spiritual wellness.

To your Perfect Health!