Ideas to Show Support for a Coworker Who Is Terminally Ill and His Family

Updated on November 09, 2009
M.H. asks from Pompano Beach, FL
11 answers

Hi Moms,
I need some advice and ideas. Someone who I have worked with for 10 years is terminally ill. He has been fighting cancer for 2 years and it now seems that there really isn't any further treatment for him. I've never been very good in these situations, but all along I've shown support and concern by visiting him and sending cards. I know that sometimes all you need to do is just let the person know that you're praying for them and thinking about them, but I would love to hear what you might think would be some thoughtful gestures I could extend to him and his family. Our department has also provided food at one point, but he has a ton of family here and food never seems to be a need. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.

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answers from Tampa on

Cards, Cards, Cards....Everyone loves cards...As a matter of fact there was just a request on Facebook last night for Christmas cards for a little boy who is in the last term of cancer and will not make it to Christmas. They are celebrating Christmas this weekend with him and asked for cards. Funny cards, happy cards. Maybe a luncheon in his honor. His family is probably smothering him so the cards are great....

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answers from Miami on

Hi, M.. I'm so glad that you have a heart to reach out to this person and let him know that you care. #1, don't stop doing that. It's the right thing to do. #2, it's always appropriate to help with food, even if your friend seems to have a ton of family around. At some point, they really will need someone to pitch in and help with practical stuff. As your friend becomes more and more ill (unless he has a miraculous remission, which I wouldn't rule out if he has people praying for him), his family wiill become more and busy doing more and more things to see to his immediate care, and they will have less and less time for cooking, etc. So be sensitive to the process they are going through, and when they need something like a casserole dinner brought in, don't hesitate.

I don't know how close you are to the family, but it's also a big help to those who are caring for your friend if they can get a break from his care. Sometimes being around a person who is terminal can be extremely nerve wracking and taxing; if you volunteer to sit with your friend and give his wife or other helpers a break, to get some fresh air or just some quiet time, that is an extremely loving and helpful thing to do. It all depends on how close a friend you are, and how close you are to the rest of the family.

Then again, maybe what you're doing now is exactly enough, and you don't need to do any more. The key is to be ready and aware, sensitive to what the Holy Spirit prompts you to offer. It always feels like we're not doing enough to help someone in times like these, but don't let guilt drive you. It's not your fault that he's sick, and it's not your fault that the family is going through this trial. Keep praying for your friend and for his family, and pray that God will use the situation to His glory. Your prayer may open the way for folks to know the Lord; the family may find strength together that they never had before.

I hope that you find peace of mind in what you're doing for this friend, and that God blesses your kind efforts.




answers from Miami on

Keep LOVE in your heart and share that with your friends and family. Our mortality can be fearful, stressful, yet a joyous event. Many blessings to you and yours...



answers from Tampa on

Hi M.,
First, I am so very sorry. I lost my best friend to breast cancer this year. She was just 42. I lost my Dad to cancer when he was 59, my aunt, a number of family friends. . .just far to many people!

Hang in there. Keep visiting as long as you are able. It will mean a lot to your friend and it will give his family a break. His family will need a break! We sometimes forget that the caregivers need care. If he has children, is there a way to get them out of the house for awhile? At the hospital I work at we put together a memory bag for our kids who have lost a family member that includes a journal, a photo album, markers,etc. that allows them to be creative and get their thoughts out about their loved one. This could be something they could do with their Dad.

Keep up with the food, or gift cards. This lets your friend know the office hasn't forgotten about him and lets you feel like you are doing something--and that is important too. Around the holidays this could be very helpful and one last thing the family has to worry about.

Lastly, don't be surprised if your friend starts to pull away. Don't take it personally, as this is a journey he has to take on his own. Keep checking in with his family and be as present as you can be.

My thoughts are with you,



answers from Fort Myers on

when my grandma was on the losing side of her cancer, we would make sure there was ALWAYS a vase of her favorite flower. starglazer lillys. we updated pics of family and put them for her to see. we played her favorite music. had her favorite blanket near her. just little things that were specail to her. the family is doing there part to help your friend. i recommend helping the family right now. sometimes it can get stressful. maybe call them and offer to stay with your friend while they "take a break." or offer little things like maybe a bottle of wine, or a pie. fresh coffee and donuts in the morning.Offer to help do laundry, or food shopping. walk the dogs, feed the animals. little things like that, they need to get done, but sometimes you give the sick family member all of your attention and those little things dont get done. that is just my suggestion. seeing how we were JUST in that situation. my grandma passed last August.



answers from Tampa on

How about Grocery store gift cards, if family is here from all over that's alot of money being spent on food, and going out or ordering out is expensive, however alot of people need to cook to feel they are helping, so, help out by giving them grocery store gift cards.
Ask whomever answers the phone at the residence what is needed, is it plane fare for someone special, everyone can pitch in a few dollars to help get that person to him, is it a dream excursion like learning to drive a race car at Disney or renting a boat to go go on an overnight fishing trip, again pitch in some cash and write that on the envelope.
Cash from family and friends and coworkers and neighbors always came in handy when my aunt was terminally ill. Having a jar of money on the kitchen table was great if we all wanted to order a bunch of pizzas, rent a bunch of movies for a movie marathon, or for that special treat my aunt wanted, anyone could grab a few bucks and rush out to get it for her, whatever she wanted or needed.
~*~One night she just HAD TO HAVE Godiva Ice cream, she hadn't bought it before because she thought it was too expensive for the small amount you get, so we grabbed some cash out of the jar and bought every kind they had and we all shared it with her, she had a wonderful evening. Smiled and laughed and learned about who liked what kind of ice cream and why, and we told our favorite ice cream memories~*~
I hope this helps, good luck, and most of all, prayers for your friend and his family :)


answers from Miami on

Good Day M.,
My name is Kathy, and I do not have cancer-Thank God, but I am partially disabled from a back surgery gone terribly wrong! There are many days I wish I had someone to do my errands, help organize my bills, go shopping for me, and help with cleaning my house! I'd love to get a bunch of fresh flowers every so often also. So I hope the way I feel will inspire your office! I will also pray for all cancer victims;and ask God to ease your friends pain! PS: maybe make a special photo album, include beautiful sunrises ect in it as well as familiar faces! Your hearts are beautiful; and I hope that God, Himself will guide you all.
Kathy N.
Even if his family is helping him, they too made need a break or help! Please do not quit visiting with him! Loneliness is awful for anyone, much less a cancer victim!



answers from Punta Gorda on

My heart goes out to you. We had a vendor that our company buys from go through this last year. We chose as a family bussiness to first send cards in the mail just offering him our support, our love, and our prayers. When he got to being bed riden we called and offered our support, and made a visit right before the Thanksgiving holiday to drop off a home baked pie and some flowers. After he passed, last December, we again sent cards anf flowers. I think the most important thing is just to tell them regularly that you want to help. Anything! I think just the expression of support and prayers is the best.



answers from Tampa on

Hi M.,
I lost my mom to cancer, and I know for her, it meant so much to have company. Some of her friends never visited once she was sick because they were uncomfortable with it. Others visited often, and I can't tell you how much my family appreciated it. One of her friends stopped almost everyday during the summer she was home on hospice care, and they had such a wonderful time reliving memories of their younger days.

So my suggestion to you would be to continue to visit when you can, as long as that is OK with him and his family. Understand that as he gets sicker, the visits may have to be shorter or there may be days when they don't happen at all. The family might appreciate you sitting with him for a while so they can go out and get a break. It's such a difficult thing for the caregivers as well as the patient.

Other than that, I would ask the family if there is anything else that can be done. I would suggest dropping off a dinner, but you said food wasn't an issue, so see what else they may need.

Above all, anything you do is a wonderful thing. So many people get scared by illnesses, so it's great that you are wanting to help.



answers from Jacksonville on

Anyone in a difficult situation always could use laughter and prayer to allow their minds not to wander and become engrossed in their realities. See if you can find some kind jokes to share of the office, the room he is in, whatever...then if you know how to pray, offer prayer each time, if not, ask someone you know to write a prayer on paper for him. If you need help with the prayer, I will write one for you, he can read in his alone time



answers from Tampa on

i'm sorry to hear about this and you are very sweet to help. i have friends who have organized visitors to come each day and just spend time with the dying person, read to them, whatever they want. they just contacted all the friends and family and asked if they wanted to be included on a visiting schedule. that way, there was always some company and something to look forward to for the day.

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