Caring for someone with health needs can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining. Sarah has spent considerable time, both as someone struggling with serious medical issues and as the family member of a chronically ill patient, and she understands the many challenges caregivers face. I’ve asked Sarah to share a few ways we can best come alongside a friend or family member in a caregiving role.
5 Ways to Encourage a Caregiver
Eight years ago, I supported my sister through a heart transplant and housed her in the month afterward. Three years ago, my son faced a life-threatening infection that sent us to the ICU. In both cases, I poured out care for those I love—family members facing incredible need—but I also carried a huge amount of needs myself.
When I look back, I’m filled with memories of friends and family who stepped in to help. If you have a friend going through a season of caring for a loved one, you may feel helpless to know how to best support her. Here are some specific ways that come to mind.
1. Pray right now.
So many times I’ve told someone, “I’ll pray for you,” but then later forgotten. Whether you’re with your friend in person or not, pause and pray immediately when the words, “I’ll pray for you,” are on the tip of your tongue.Whether you’re with your friend in person or not, pause and pray immediately when the words, “I’ll pray for you,” are on the tip of your tongue. Click To Tweet
If circumstances aren’t right to pray with her immediately, let her know you’ll pray, and then schedule a reminder on your phone. When you pray later, follow up with a brief message to encourage your friend and let her know you were thinking of her.
2. Ask how your friend is doing, and then listen.
So many times people ask a caregiver how her care recipient is doing, but they forget to check in on the caregiver herself. She’s likely pouring out everything she has day after day, all while being expected to keep normal life afloat. What a gift you could give her by simply asking how she is doing.So many times people ask a caregiver how her care recipient is doing, but they forget to check in on the caregiver herself. Click To Tweet
When she answers, remember the age-old advice, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Sometimes when we’re not sure what to say, we dominate the conversation to avoid awkwardness. Be willing to step outside your comfort zone. Ask your friend how she’s doing and then truly listen. Try not to jump in with your thoughts, but let her do the talking.
3. Buy a thoughtful gift.
If your friend is caring for someone with physical needs, she’s probably had to put herself on the backburner. Think of creative gifts that will soothe or help her during this season. Here are some ideas:
– Heated eye mask or neck pillow (especially if she’s providing care outside of her home)
– Gift cards for carryout or meal delivery
– Uplifting book or devotional
4. Show up and help.
Asking how you can help may create more stress for your friend, especially if she’s overwhelmed and busy. The best thing might be to show up with a plan in mind. If you know she hasn’t been able to clean her house for months, show up with a bucket of cleaning supplies and get to work. It might feel awkward at first, but I guarantee she’ll appreciate it.The best thing might be to show up with a plan in mind. Click To Tweet
If she’s struggling to put meals on the table, show up with a pre-prepped freezer meal she can reheat later, or set up a meal delivery schedule with friends.
5. Do what you can.
If time is tight and your life is busy, do what you can. Send a quick text with a prayer typed out or a simple note that says, “I’m thinking about you today.”
Don’t underestimate the power of any gesture, big or small. Your friend is likely facing loneliness and exhaustion each day. Your message or gift could make a world of difference in reminding her she’s not alone.Don't underestimate the power of any gesture, big and small. Click To Tweet
Sarah shares what she discovered in her caregiving journey—peace through prayer, solace in Scripture, and unending hope from a Heavenly Father who never stops loving you. Each heartfelt prayer and devotion is intended to help you navigate the complex set of emotions that come with caregiving.