7 Acts of Kindness You Can Do for Your Chronically Ill Friends


Even though the holiday season has ended, giving can be year-long. Kindness doesn’t need to be confined to a date on the calendar.

We’ve all heard ideas on helping others in need, including cancer patients and those in the chronic illness community. Giving gifts such as lotion, candles, fuzzy blankets and journals are great, but sometimes a good deed is the most valuable of all. We often catch ourselves saying, “Let me know what I can do to help.”

Well, there are a million things we can use help with, but it’s hard to tell you sometimes.

Here are some specific ideas to share kindness without waiting for your loved one to ask:

1. Colder Climates: Surprise them by removing snow from their driveways, sidewalks and cars. If you’re able, go the extra mile by checking their fluids, buying and installing new windshield wipers or checking tire pressure. Basic car maintenance is an incredible gift!

2. Speaking of cars: If you know your friend is struggling with travel arrangements, offer to take them. Instead of saying “let me know,” offer the times you are available. Try saying, “I’m available on Friday afternoons or Tuesday mornings if you would like me to take you to an appointment, the grocery store, etc. Let’s work out a time I can pick you up for whatever you need to get done.”

3. Household Chores: Tread lightly with this one. Some people would absolutely love help getting meals prepared, laundry and vacuuming done, or any other household chore. Though, some people may find that awkward or intrusive. If you know the person well, offer to help in a specific way. If you’re unsure, it’s probably best not to bring it up.

4. Yard Maintenance: If you can mow lawns, trim bushes and pull weeds, come on over! You might even be able to help place holiday decorations to help create a more cheerful environment and help with basic outdoor tasks that your loved one may struggle with.

5. Meal Prep: This is a big one. Personally, when I was a new mom with a premature baby in NICU, it was such a burden lifted to come home and heat up my aunt’s casserole. I likely wouldn’t have eaten if I didn’t have some of that food to easily heat up. A lot of people associate love with food, so it’s a nice gesture to share that love with someone who needs it! Just be considerate of dietary restrictions and feel free to ask about those concerns with the person you’d like to cook for.

6. Think Outside of the Box: I love to journal, especially when I’m anxious or feeling burdened. Are you artistic? Buy a blank journal as a gift and use some random pages to draw borders, add motivational quotes and expressions of care inside the pages before presenting your gift. It’s sure to be a treasured memento that can also serve a purpose.

7. Time: I’m a firm believer that giving your time to a loved one is the best gift. Think about what they like to do and give them the opportunity to do it. Some people may be able to get out of the house – offer to go out to dinner, a movie or painting party. If being home is the better option, bring the crafts, movies and food to them! Just spending time together can show your person you care. Maybe it’ll be a great distraction from the pain or it could become a great chance for them to open up and talk about whatever is on their mind. Either way, the human connection is often overlooked and under appreciated. There will always be times the chronic illness community will want and need to have alone time, curled up in the blankets, but that doesn’t mean we want or need to stay that way. Please don’t let our bad days dictate your opinion of us.

Dealing with serious health problems is very difficult. Many times, we feel guilt and don’t want to “burden” to our loved ones. To those of you trying to help and show care, we appreciate you.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Getty image by Halfpoint


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Chronic Illness

two women holding cups of coffee and clinking their mugs together

The Important Ways My Best Friend Supports Me in Life With Chronic Illness

You always sound ready. It’s like you know that if the words “help” come out of my mouth, that I already weighed those words carefully and I must truly need it. You are my best friend and I’m gonna brag about you online right now. I have chronic illness, I haven’t shared the intricate details [...]
lorde instagram screenshot

Lorde Claps Back at People Who Try to Tell Her How to Treat Her Acne

Lorde is not here for anyone’s’ unsolicited “suggestions” for treating her acne, and has some words of encouragement for others dealing with “bad skin.” On Saturday night, Lorde posted an Instagram story of herself lying down with a purplish-pink light on her face (Refinery 29 reported it was an acne LED light therapy device). The [...]
A woman looking at a sunset, visualizing.

When Your Illness Changes Your Dreams

Lately, it’s felt like the news, both online and on TV, is all about being your best self – no matter what type of adversity you’re facing. I’ve read about people finishing marathons while having stage four cancer. Loosing 100 pounds just by walking. Curing their own diseases by changing their diet. We live in a [...]
screenshots from period tracker apps

9 Apps That Can Help People With Chronic Illnesses Track Their Periods

If you’re of a certain age, you may remember the days of marking your period on a calendar — maybe coming up with your own system of symbols and colors to keep track of your symptoms and when it was supposed to arrive. Well, thanks to smartphones, your desk or pocket calendar is no longer [...]