There’s nothing more heartbreaking than watching someone you love in pain. It can make you feel useless. Perhaps you don’t know what to say. Yet, more than anything, you want to help her. Luckily, you don’t have to know any medical jargon to be a huge part of the diagnosis and recovery process. Here’s what you can do to help your BFF through a medical crisis:
- Listen – No matter what your experience may be with a similar situation or disease, take the time to listen to your friend’s experience. A difficult time is not the time to make it about yourself. Instead, it can be helpful to validate their feelings and show your sympathy by putting the thoughts they are sharing into your own words: “So it sounds like you are really frustrated about _______.” Remember, this is NOT the time to tell them about your Aunt Milley who died from the same disease.
- Tell, Don’t Ask – A person dealing with a health crisis is usually already feeling very overwhelmed. When you ask your best friend what you can do to help, you might just add to the stress. Your friend might not know what they need to get better, much less what you can do to aid in that process. Here’s where you come in. Tell them exactly what you’re going to do to help out without asking, then give them options within that: “I’m going to call the dogwalker for you, so what time is best today to have him walk Dottie?” Or “I’m picking you up this week to take you for a pedicure, since I know you can’t reach your toes right now. Which day is best?”
- Pick Up The Slack – You can often help ease their burden by taking care of errands. Making dinner or chauffeuring the kids to after-school activities can go a long way. Offer to do some of the less regular chores, too, like getting the car washed or cleaning the yard. You can even have her make a list of chores to get done, and do them for her on pre-set days of the week. Give your best friend one less thing to worry about: “I made some veggie lasagna for the family and it’s in the fridge. Take it easy, tonight!”
- Enjoy The Things You Normally Would Together – After multiple trips in and out of waiting rooms and doctors office, your friend might wish to stop being the patient all of the time. Keeping that in mind, now you know that every conversation you have with her doesn’t need to be about her health. Continue to send funny dog photos if that’s what you normally do on a day-to-day basis. Watch a comedy special together as you always do on Friday nights. You don’t even have to mention the illness: “No way we’re missing this week’s episode of Bachelorette!”
- Stay Present Throughout The Recovery Process – Some illnesses may be just a scary few days or something your friend may have to live with for their rest of her life. Often the cards and flowers stop coming after the initial discovery, but that doesn’t mean that your support stops there. Check in with your friend in the weeks and months after a diagnosis. Ask how she’s feeling. Get something to cheer her up on a particularly hard day. Surprise her with a gift to mark a special milestone in the road to recovery: “Congrats on the first day you have ______ since your diagnosis.”
It’s okay for you to feel upset about the situation sometimes, but focus on your bestie and what you can control. Can you make her smile? Can you show her how loved she is? That is plenty of help already.
ABOUT SAMANTHA HARRIS
Emmy Award-winner Samantha Harris may best be known for her eight seasons as the host of Dancing with the Stars or her many years on Entertainment Tonight. The 11-time fitness cover model and mother of two was blindsided by her breast cancer diagnosis at age 40. In a quest for answers and leaning into her journalism background, she researched all she could and determined that what she put in, on and around her body gravely affected her health. Her bestselling book, Your Healthiest Healthy, arms others with how to take control to become the healthiest version of yourself.