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Updated: Jun 19, 2023

We often feel helpless when someone we know has a life-limiting illness.

What do we say?

How can we offer support?

Hopefully these tips will help create meaningful moments with family and friends.

1. It’s important to not avoid the ill friend or family member. Continue to be a friend or loved one the way you have always been.

2. Call before you visit, but don’t be afraid to visit. They might be lonely or afraid and could really use the company. Ask them questions about what they need and when would be the best time for company.

3. Don’t be afraid of touching your friend or loved one. Holding their hand or squeezing them or even a hug. It sends the message that you care.

4. Be positive; it’s contagious.

5. Provide a meal either one you cook, or one from a caterer or provide a gift certificate that they can use when they are ready.

6. It’s okay to cry when they cry, and laugh when they laugh. It’s okay to share emotions.

7. Sometimes it okay to just listen and be silent. You don’t have to talk to offer comfort.

8. If the friend or loved one has children. They may need time alone with their loved one, or they may need some help with their kids. Little things are big things.

9. Take the friend or loved one for a drive or even out to get a cup of coffee, but keep in mind their limitations.

10. Ask the friend or loved one if they need transportation to the doctor or to the store.

11. Call ask if they have a shopping list when you are out doing your own shopping.

12. Celebrate the holidays if they want to celebrate, cheer them up with something fun and cheerful.

13. Help the friend or loved one’s family with an offer to provide respite so they can have a break or take a time out. Caregiving is a hard job.

14. If they like to pray, ask to pray with them.

15. Send cards saying you are thinking about them or that you care. Everyone loves getting mail.

16. Bring a small gift like flowers or any other special treasures, old photos, or things that you can reminisce about.

17. Water the plants, help in the garden, do the laundry, wash the dishes, or even light housekeeping anything that helps.

18. Ask your friend or loved one if they want to talk about their illness. Ask: “Do you feel like talking about what you are going through, or how you are feeling.” Let them guide the conversation.

Most importantly be patient, compassionate and for your loved ones as they deal with their illness.

Blog written by RaDeana Montgomery Resource Development and Communications Coordinator Hospice Dufferin.

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