The holidays are a time when lots of families reconnect and celebrate seasonal traditions. For families with a loved one in the hospital, however, it can be an especially difficult time, often compounded by extra responsibility, exhaustion, and isolation. If you know a family with someone in the hospital over the holidays, here are five meaningful ways you can help them during the holiday season and beyond.
Offer to do Grocery Shopping
Going to the store and keeping the fridge full of food can often sound like a chore that’s too far out of reach for someone with family in the hospital. Offer to do grocery shopping for the family. Be sure to ask which stores and brand they prefer.
Offer to do Holiday Gift Shopping
Families with someone in the hospital might not have time to do holiday shopping. Offer to take their list to the store and pick up their presents. Wrapping presents is also a useful thing to offer.
Give Parents a Date Night
For parents with a sick child in the hospital, offer to sit with their child (or watch their other children), so they can have some alone time. Even if they just go to the hospital cafeteria or get a coffee together, they need time together to decompress and reconnect.
Take the Kids Somewhere Fun
When a family member is in the hospital, an entire family often revolves around that one person, and often the needs of kids at home aren’t as attended as they had been. Offer to take the kids out to the movies, or the park, or somewhere fun. Even a trip to the library can brighten the day of kids who haven’t been able to get out for a while. If the family member is in the hospital for a long time, offer to take the kids out weekly.
Vehicle Cleaning and Service
Tending to the vehicle of a family with someone in the hospital is an often overlooked, but much appreciated service you can offer. Winter is no time to find out you need new tires, or an oil change. Offer to take their car in for its regular service. Even offering to clean it, fill it with gas, and put on new windshield wipers can mean a lot to families with other things on their minds.
Followup and Check In
Some people decline help the first time someone offers it for many reasons; maybe they’re newly in their situation, maybe they think they can do it on their own, maybe they’re just overwhelmed. But offer to help more than one time. After a few days, they may have a better idea of what you can help with. Or they may not need help at first. Casually check in when you feel it’s appropriate and ask what you can do. Offer to set up a Give InKind page for them, and make them an organizer so they can add needs as they come up.
Ask Them How They Are Doing and What They Need
Maybe they have a large support network already, and what they really need is a friend to just hang out with and decompress. Maybe they need help with laundry. Whatever it is, ask and listen.
Offer Specific Things You Know You Can Do
Some people don’t yet know what they need, until you offer it. Others might feel like they’re imposing on you by suggesting something, so don’t be afraid to suggest specifics.
Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.