Lately, it seems that every week I learn more of my friends are waiting for test results or battling some debilitating illness. The older I get, the more frequently it happens. Are you encountering this? How do you help your friends and protect your own health and happiness?
I know how it feels to be sick. One of the things I do is tell my friends what has happened to me, letting them know I am fully recovered and better than ever. I was ill for a few years, and after suffering a painful, moderate heart attack, I worried that I would soon die. My body took its sweet time recovering, and I felt like I would never get back to my energetic, vibrant self.
But you know what? My body knew what it was doing. It forced me to rest, reduce my stress and consider what’s truly important. In doing so, I became healthier and happier. And I draw upon this experience when I talk to friends who are dealing with health challenges.
Usually, you have to get past the immediate illness to see a path forward. And it’s hard not to wallow in fear and sadness when you are facing a significant change, isn’t it?
So, what can you do to support your friends in need?
I believe as Abe Lincoln once said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” I choose to be happy and I focus on my blessings. I am truly happy for all that I have had, do have and will have in my life. Life is seldom easy; bad things happen to everyone, but I try to see the funny side of situations.
I keep a running list of friends and family members in need of spiritual support. When I wake each morning and before I fall asleep at night, I focus on each of them as I sing (usually in my brain, not aloud) these words, written by a California songwriter, Melanie DeMore, and learned at a Quaker women’s retreat many years ago. It says, “I am sending you Light to hold you, to heal you. I am sending you Light to hold you in Love.” I also sing this song periodically throughout the day while thinking of specific people.
Although I would not consider myself especially religious, and I’m not a pray-out-loud kind of person, I know a number of people who strongly believe in group, vocal prayer and who are part of prayer-warrior groups. I ask them to include my friends and family in their prayers. The power of prayer is visible.
Getting a simple card or short letter in the mail is unusual these days. I think everyone likes to get things in their mailbox that are not bills or junk mail. For the fun of it, include a dollar in the card, just like my grandma did when I was a kid. It will make them wonder, “What’s with the dollar?” Nothing. It’s just fun to open cards with money in them.
When I know friends or family are suffering, I telephone or visit them. I find that my past health issues help me allay some of their fears because I am able to say, “Of course you are tired. Your body is telling you to take it easy and rest. It is exactly what you need to do right now. Your body is making you do what it wants you to do. Rest. Recover. You will get stronger if you take good care of yourself.”
I also tell them about what I’m doing or some article I’ve read. If I’m able, I offer to visit and bring them lunch. I let them know what’s new with mutual acquaintances. In other words, I prattle on about everyday life. It generally cheers them up and gives them hope.
When someone isn’t feeling well, a bouquet of flowers or a soft scarf or blanket might be just the thing to uplift them. A wonderful herbal tea and a shortbread cookie can turn their day around, so send or take them as comfort gifts.
I’m a foodie. I feel better when I eat good food, and I believe that food can heal people. I love to cook and share my food. So I make a big pot of rejuvenating, Mexican Chicken Soup or my full-of-flavor, vegan Chilean Bean Corn Stew and some Quinoa Corn Bread and take it to them, packaged in two-serving sizes that can be eaten immediately or frozen for future meals.
How do you choose to support your loved ones during a crisis? How do you take care of yourself to remain healthy in trying times? I’d love to know what you do. Please share in the comments.