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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.

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Getty image by Halfpoint