22 answers

Ideas for Friend's Sick Mother

I have a strange question. I have a very good group of 6 friends. One of them has had family health issues for the past few years. About 3 years ago her father fell off a ladder while hanging xmas lights and is now semi-paralyzed from the chest down. Then this year her mother was taken to the hospital with what they thought to be a stroke, but turned out to be Bells Palsey (Sp?). Since then they have done more tests and she has been diagnosed with lung cancer which they have now found out has spread to her liver. Depending on treatments and their outcomes she has anywhere between 6months and 5 years to live. My friend has a 2 year old boy and works full time and has been spening the night with her mother to take care of her if she gets sick from her chemo treatments.

When her father first fell and had to be in the hospital for a few months, myself and my group of friends pitched in and put together a basket of snacks, magazines, gift cards to local restaurants, etc to have at the hospital. And when her mother was in the hospital when they had thought she had a stroke we each took turns and made a meal for the family.

But now that heer mother has cancer and our friend is running back and forth from her own family, to her mother we are at a loss for something to do for her, her sister and her brother. And I forgot to mention that throughout this her grandmother has been in and out of the hospital with seizures and other ailments.

My question is, does anyone have any ideas or thoughts as to what we can do for her and her family that will help her. She doesn't need childcare for her son, between day care and her husband she is set. Do we do the meal thing again? What else can we do for her that will help her out and make her life a little less hectic? Tahnk you for any ideas you can give.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

Dear A., Here are a few suggestions...
--you may think that the childcare is taken care, but maybe dad needs a break sometimes too.
--Dinner or lunches for her husband to bring to work
--Housework, dishes, laundry, yardwork, grocery shopping for their families is ALWAYS helpful
--Pay a utility in the name of the sick or healthy, one less bill a month would be PRICELESS

Good luck and what a good friend you are. A. in MA, mother of a beautiful yet mouthy 10 year old daughter

I think what would help the most is to give her more time. What I mean is provide her with services that allow her the free time to spend with her family without having to work at home as well. Could you get her a house cleaner? Or order her groceries?
Good luck, sounds like you are a very good friend. :)

More Answers

A gas card would be appreciated and maybe a fast food card...I know, not to healthy, but sometimes helpful when pressed for time.
Even a toy/movie for her son.

If you have a group of people willing to contribute, I might suggest getting food from Schwan's delivered. The quality of the food is fantastic and as long as they have the freezer space to store the food you can get them entrees, side dishes, veggies, desserts and even snacks and other stuff that will make meal planning much easier and prep almost non-existent. You can go online to www.schwans.com to look at what they have to offer and you can call them to get a catalog or talk to someone about the service. This allows you all to pool your resources and get them something they can really use. You can even ask them for preferences.

Hope that helps. L.

Dear A., Here are a few suggestions...
--you may think that the childcare is taken care, but maybe dad needs a break sometimes too.
--Dinner or lunches for her husband to bring to work
--Housework, dishes, laundry, yardwork, grocery shopping for their families is ALWAYS helpful
--Pay a utility in the name of the sick or healthy, one less bill a month would be PRICELESS

Good luck and what a good friend you are. A. in MA, mother of a beautiful yet mouthy 10 year old daughter

The first two things I thought of that I would want: someone to grocery shop and do housework/laundry! You could even pitch in to have a housecleaner come if you didn't want to or didn't feel comfortable doing it yourself. Meals are always appreciated in these types of situations. I know somebody who went through a tough time recently and they started leaving a cooler by the back door. They never knew what they would find in it when they got home, but people always came through with meals and things to help them out!

Good luck to your friend. She is lucky to have such a wonderful group of friends!

Anything that will help save her some time - meals, going grocery shoppng for her, any other errands, car pooling if she needs it, house cleaning, laundry, etc. All the stuff that needs to get done that just can't will help her tremendously. You sound like a great friend!!

My grandfather is currently dying of cancer, and while helping to care for him my grandma had to be admitted to the hospital as well. My parents are doing the brunt of the work since my Mom is a nurse and my Dad has his own business (and all of the other children are not able to help out). I've been trying to help out where I can, but since I have 2 kids there hasn't been a lot that I could do.

I am sure that some of the following could be very helpful to your friend:

*cleaning (of either or both homes)~ either have a rotating schedule for each house once a week or get together and chip in for a temporary maid service

*grocery shopping or other errands

*meals are very helpful too! Even if you premake and freeze a few for here and there that are easy for her to heat up, it makes a big difference! Often people caring for others forget how important it is to eat right and keep themselves healthy and resort to unhealthy snacks to tide them over.

*offer to sit with her family if she needs to get out to get her hair or other pampering done

*spa gift certificate? (with the help needed to spend a few hours away so she can be fully pampered without taking her worries with her).

*staying with her parents so she can have some quality time with her husband and son

... childcare could be helpful in less obvious ways ~ her husband might need a childcare break to help refresh everyone in the household.

... and another final thought ~ ask her what she needs most.

During my grandparents hospitalizations and my own (i've been hospitalized for many months at a time ~ most recently was pregnancy complications and baby in NICU). Often its the little things that help the most. Visiting with her and just helping her destress is really more helpful than you can imagine. I was very thankful when different people stepped in to help care for my oldest daughter while I was in the hospital with my youngest daughter. Most recently I've made my intentions known to my parents that I'd like to help in whatever way I can ~ even though I live 6 hours from them and have 2 kids I expressed my willingness to do what was needed. I also expressed that I didn't want to get in the way or cause more work for them, so if they wanted me to stay home rather than help, that I understood that as well.

It is really great that you have such a group of friends that supports each other!!

Best Wishes!!!

Hiya A.

What an awesome group of friends you friend has. I recently lost my mother to cancer and I will share what helped most. Meals because we were so busy taking care of her we had little energy to prepare meals. People volunteered to sit with my mother so I could have a break. My mother in law took care of my children so I could focus on my mom, and I had a friend who would take them to fun places. She was a godsend. People came over to help me keep the house clean.

I had folks asking me all the time what they could do and I either couldnt think of anything at the time or was reluctant to impose. Folks caught on to that and stopped asking and just started doing what they thought needed to be done when they came over.

My thoughts and prayers go out to your friend, you and the other angels in her life.

Not a strange question at all! I'd also be looking for what to do... but on the outside looking in, sometimes it's easier to figure that out. How about going to their house and cleaning, doing laundry, etc. once or twice a week? I know those daily things are what get in the way of helping others or even doing things we WANT to do! THe meal thing is also helpful I think. I don't know where they all are, but I know that some areas have meal kitchens that you can go to and pack up as many night meals as you need, with all the sides and everything and it can all be frozen and used as needed. I know they have packages too for like 12 meals if you wanted. I've been wanting to try this myself as a huge time saver. I think there is one in Kingston, MA, and I think closer to Boston somewhere... not sure where you are located.

The other thing you might consider as a touching idea is to visit these sick people (mom, grandmother, etc.) and try to get them to privately write personal letters to your friend and her family... and you can preserve them in a scrapbook for them or have them custom framed. This might be something they'll love to have when eventually they are no longer here. That is something that nobody would think of doing while running around trying to care for everyone!!

Good luck - sorry to hear about all the ailments and troubles.

Along with all the great ideas posted, I might suggest something that will help her relax. Perhaps a yoga class that she could drop into now and again when she has a free hour, or a certificate for a massage? If she really does have the household and childcare under control with her husband's help, she might just appreciate something for her alone that will help her relax.

It sounds like you all are helping her just with your presence and support - wonderful!

I thinks doing some meals is a good idea, what about some house cleaning?

Get online and bring up www.ehope.nu and talk to your friend about it. Ehope is a fabulous fairly new organization started by Jeffrey Wood in the Portland area who had a terminally ill neighbor and got to see first hand the struggles they face and formed this whole system. It is FREE and a wonderful resource to families with terminally ill members. It brings friends, family and community together to help so that the burden doesn't solely lie on the immediate family. It is the perfect answer for friends and relatives who want to help without getting in the way. Good luck and please spread the word. Ehope was the recipient of last years "Six Who Care" award from Channel Six.

I dont know if this is any good or not, but since you sound like you have such a nice group of 6 friends. If at all possible, perhaps if your friend could get one night way from it all, and just re group with her girlfriends...... Maybe just to get out to dinna, or go for manicures, and at that time you could present her with the gas gift card that others mentioned. You guys could just let her know at that time how hard things are for her right now, and that you just wanted to let her know you are all there for her, even just to talk.

Hi A. - Wow... Imagine all that on your plate at once. Why does this happen?

Anyway - I respectfully disagree!! I'm thinking that if you took her son for some "adventures" and created some wonderful memories for him (get it? it's not babysitting... it's creating memories), then both her husband and mother would be freed up to help with cooking, driving, comforting, etc, AND she wouldn't be worried about her child at all.

Does that make sense? So my advice is to not assume that anything is all set, or taken care of. It if were me, I'd offer to do the childcare so the family can circle the wagons.

Just a thought... (Others: grocery shopping, errands, house cleaning, P's and D's - pick ups and drop offs... and, of course, food.)

First off, I would say ASK HER WHAT SHE NEEDS MOST. She might surprise you. I think all the ideas presented here are great, and helpful and really invaluable. But she might say something like, "I love everything that you have done and I hope you will continue to do, but I need a massage." Who knows, all I'm saying is ask her and let her know it's a free pass....she can ask for anything and you will do your BEST to accommodate. This way you are not making promises to do something you don't have the resources for. Also, just the very idea of asking her what she needs can be such a relief. This woman is doing, doing, doing for everyone and just having the liberty to fantasize about something lovely might be just the vacation she needs. Let her tell you.


You are already doing the best thing possible for her..... She is so fortunate to have a friend like you! The meal thing is wonderful.... child care is great (Dad's need a break, too)..... make a specific offer like meals or grocery shopping and follow through. She is very lucky to have you!

What about you and your friends splitting the price for a cleaning service. It is so nice to have a clean house when u come home from a sressful day. We all know that cleaning the house is one more chore on the to do list.

I think meals are the best thing. Trying to get to the grocery store, prepare a healthy meal, and clean up are all so time consuming. By delivering the meals, your friend gets to touch base with her friends, get some support and love, and have the duty of dinner time relieved!
If you're really looking for something different, perhaps some flowers, planted in her yard, to cheer her.
Hurrah to your circle of friends for coming together in a time of need.

Not having to worry about what to do for dinner is always a nice plus when life is super stressful, so I would continue the occasional meal for sure.
You might also want to look into a gift certificate for a "night out" with her husband so they could have some down time and get away from it all for a few hours. I don't know how realistic that would be, but if it's possible-arrange for childcare, and look into tickets to a local play or comedy show, and a nice dinner somewhere. Giving her an opportunity to re-charge might be very helpful! She is very lucky to have such great friends!

What about a gas gift card? The meal thing is a great idea, I'm sure her family appreciates all the amazing things you and your friends have done. She is extremely lucky to have you in her life.

Also, what about a gift card for just her? It sounds like she is always busy taking care of others and probably doesnt have much time, energy or possibly motivation to do something special for herself???

I understand you and your friends delima. A year ago we put our own lives on hold to do hospice care for my boyfriends father. To the point that we stayed with his father in one state and tried to maintane the kids' school and activities in another. It's tough trying to manage two households. Meals are a HUGE help, offer to go grocery shopping, free house cleaning (of either home), or offer to sit with the parents so they can have a family evening. Sometimes our friends would just stop in and bring a coffee. Even those little measures meant so much. Also don't be afriad to just simply ask what you could do. Bless you and your friends for being so close and willing to help out. It's a rarity these days.

I think what would help the most is to give her more time. What I mean is provide her with services that allow her the free time to spend with her family without having to work at home as well. Could you get her a house cleaner? Or order her groceries?
Good luck, sounds like you are a very good friend. :)

Wow, what a wonderful supportive friend you are! Helping with meals or household chores I'm sure is most appreciated. How about a certificate for a massage to help her unwind?

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