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6 Ways to Support Someone Dealing With A Serious Illness

When someone we care about is facing a serious illness, it’s crucial to support them through tough times. Although the journey may be challenging, our presence and actions can make a significant impact. In this article, we explore practical ways to offer comfort and assistance to individuals dealing with a serious illness. By listening, helping out, spending time together, and showing genuine care, we can bring solace and aid to our loved ones. Let’s dive into these six essential ways to uplift and support those in need.

How to Support Someone with Serious Illness Be A Good Listener two people sitting face to face, hand in hand, having a conversation. A big part of how to support someone with serious illness Sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen. 

When someone is suffering through an illness, one of the best things you can offer them is a listening ear. If someone you know is sick, they may have a lot to say about what they’re going through. Just being there so that they can vent will mean a lot to them. It is likely that they have many different emotions about the day they were diagnosed, what they might have to deal with in the future, and what they are dealing with now. Call them or visit them whenever they’re up for it so that they can vent.

There are times when a person who is sick wants to be distracted from what they are dealing with. Let your sick loved one guide the conversation where they need it to be so that they can vent when they need to or distract themselves when they need to. Talking about good times, dreams for the future, and sharing jokes can make someone feel better even if only for a brief period of time. Any moment when someone can think about something other than their debilitating illness can be a welcome source of distraction.

Visit from Time to Time

a person greeting their loved one at the door with a hug. how to support someone with serious illness

A casual visit can make someone’s day. 

Dealing with an illness can make someone feel really alone. Visiting them sometimes could really help them feel better. They will probably be spending lots of time at home right now and might not be in the mood to go out a lot of the time, so if you can come to them, it can make their day. Even if you stop by just for a quick hour, it can have a big impact. Sometimes people in a tough situation don’t really enjoy being alone, but aren’t up for seeking out company themselves. 

It can be hard to even get out of bed sometimes when someone is going through a struggle with illness, so sometimes you can just come by and watch some movies with them. On top of all the other fun things you choose to do on the regular, make sure to set aside some time for your friend who is stuck at home. Even if you don’t really do anything, just having some company can feel like a good time. 

Be Helpful

woman wearing protective gloves washing a window with cleanser and a cloth

Helping someone get things done will ease their burden. 

Taking care of oneself often takes a backseat to constant worry under these tough circumstances. Stress can also take a physical toll, so on top of illness a sick person has to deal with, they also have to deal with the effects of stress. To help out with this issue, you can help your struggling loved one out with daily tasks. 

Clean their space

Strenuous activity like cleaning can quickly exhaust an ill loved one, and exposing themselves to the dust and germs that are kicked up during cleaning can be hazardous to an already compromised immune system. You can help keep their environment clean and healthy by offering to help or hiring a service on their behalf. You can offer to come by and do some cleaning for them in a moment they can really use it. Sweep and mop the floor for them, do dishes, and sanitize everything you can.

Do their laundry

Laundry is a tedious task that someone suffering through illness might not have much capacity to even think about. If someone can’t bring themselves to get laundry done, doing it for them just once can be a great help. Do all the laundry that you can in one sitting and put their clothes away for them.

Set up a meal train

When someone is struggling through an illness, they might not prioritize feeding themselves, but this is the time when they need nourishment the most. One of the best ways to help someone in this situation is to get them meals they can have for a few days. A good way to do that is by setting up a meal train. You can easily do that with Give InKind.

Everything you need to set up a successful meal train can be found on Give InKind. You can create an InKind page for someone in need in just five minutes. And then you can schedule meals through the Care Calendar, alert supporters to food and delivery preferences, and make sure your loved one remains supported and fed. Give InKind will help facilitate the whole process for you and make things easier. You can write down a person’s favorite meals on the InKind page you set up for them. If anyone wants to help out, all they have to do is pick a meal time and choose how they will have it delivered. They can choose to make and deliver it themselves, have it delivered by a restaurant or delivery service, or pay for a gift card from a specific restaurant or service. 

Give Them Rides

driving in a car

Offer some help that comes with some company. 

When someone is suffering through a serious illness, it can be a very lonely time for them. Everyone around them has to go through the regular motions of their own lives while their life is in turmoil, so everyone can’t be there for them all the time. So when you do have some free time, offer to chauffeur them to some of the places they need to go. They may need to go to the doctor from time to time for tests and medication, so it can make them feel more comfortable to have a friend there with them. When your friend knows that they have someone outside of the doctor’s office waiting for them, it can make them feel a lot lighter than they would if they were there alone. 

It can be nice just to run daily errands with a friend. Every once in a while you can offer to drive your friend around while you run errands together. Going to the grocery store can be a fun experience when you do it with a friend. You can hit several grocery stores, drug stores, and markets together and it won’t feel as boring and tedious as it normally might. Running errands with someone makes something mundane into a fun bonding experience. You might even be in the mood to hang out more later.

Take Them Out

person in wheelchair at the beach reaching down to the sand and smiling

Taking someone out can lift their spirits. 

Someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness may not be spending that much time outside of the house anymore. Whether they were a social butterfly before or more of an introvert, they will probably spend noticeably more time at home. When a serious illness is ravaging someone’s life, going out isn’t often going to be the first thing on their mind. They likely won’t be in the mood to go out a lot of the time or they simply won’t think about it much. It could be helpful for you to ask them to go out with you on occasion. 

They might not be up for it a lot of the time, but inviting them out every once in a while can be helpful. Rather than quietly stop making plans because you assume they’re too sad to do anything, you should at least reach out and find out. If they aren’t in the mood to get out and do anything this week or even this month, as time goes by, they might change their mind. They might be eager to get out and do something after staying home each day for a while. And make sure to ask them what they would like to do. It doesn’t have to be extravagant or exhausting, maybe they’re up for a walk in the park. Or a conversation sitting on a bench with a nice view.

Ask Them What They Need

a close up on two people's hands clasped together in support

Find out what a struggling friend would like from you. 

Everyone has different needs, even when they are sick. One good way to help someone going through a serious illness is to ask them what they would like from you. People definitely appreciate helpful offers, but don’t always feel comfortable asking for specifics. Big or small, whatever it is, you should try to make some effort to help them out if it’s something you are able to do. 

Some people are not comfortable accepting assistance. If you want to help someone who feels this way, make sure they know you are available for help whenever they need it, but don’t make them feel pressured to accept your assistance.


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.

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