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Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak

Ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

What do I say, or do when I want to help and give service?

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ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

What do I say, or do when I want to help and give service?

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak

Helping A Sick Friend and Comforting In Heartbreak is one of the kindness and most thoughtful acts we can do.

However, it’s one of the most difficult too.

Have you ever faced the situation of wanting to help your neighbor, a close friend, or a family member after a great loss or tragic situation and not known what to do or say?

How to approach them, what to say, what to offer….it’s difficult at best.

That’s why I’ve compiled a great resource for us, so we can be prepared in most all situations; knowing what to say, what not to say and how to be a great help that’s actually meaningful and will be apprecaited!

How Can I Help When Someone Is Sick And Show them that I Care?

What if a friend has a sick child or parent they are caring for?

  • How can you help a friend who is overcoming a loss from suicide, infant death, pet loss (pets are like family to some people and it is just as tragic), or any other situation of deep mourning. 
  • How can we help them? 
  • How can we show that we care? 
  • What do we say, or not say?
  • What can we do that’s meaningful and helpful? 


Mourn with those that mourn

I have an experience of my own I’ll share with you.  This past couple of years have been really difficult.  Not the kind that people always reach out, such as when you have cancer, but one that definitely warrants love, understanding and compassion.

That’s when you find the true angels that comfort and ‘mourned with those who mourn’ showing true charity and kindness.

Natalie is one who is that kind of person. 

She handmade this card and wrote a tender sentiment inside, which I read often. 

Make sure to reach out to those who are going through hardships of ALL types; they need you also. 

You can get beautiful cards like this from Natalie HERE

Ways to help a person or family when tragedy, illness or hardship strikes their home. What to say, not to say, what to do and more

What do I say, or do when I want to help and give service?

In distressing circumstances what do you say– or not say?  

  • How can we actually help without saying the cliche: Let me know what I can do. 
  • How can we actually be a benefit and relieve even a little bit of the burden for those who are struggling.  

I have ideas and tips that cover these topics and more so we can really serve others in a way that will lift those who are weighed down with all the burden of distress, sadness, worry and pain.  Bringing hope, happiness and relief from the caring and friendship that we can provide in times of need.

There are numerous conditions under which a person or a family could use help.

  • Severe handicap
  • Mental Illness
  • A loved one chose suicide
  • A death, whether old, young or newborn
  • Terminal illness
  • Hospitalization
  • Surgery
  • New baby (adopted and foster are just as much of an adjustment)
  • Job loss – long term, or repeated can be very disheartening

The reasons are many of when to help, and it’s always a good thing to take in a meal, or give some support.  The challenge is to have the courage to get some information and then act!


1- Now that we identified WHEN to help –

2- WHAT can we do if it’s not obvious?

3- Look hard and pray about it.  Here’s an example from my own experience.

Some years back, a family in our neighborhood had a very young son who was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, it was a scary and trying time for also their extended family and those of us in the neighborhood who knew and cared about them.

I wanted to somehow be a benefit, but I wasn’t sure what to do, so I included it in my prayers that I’d know how to help.

After prying a little one day, I found out that the mom did not have the extra means to buy food from the cafeteria while she was at hospital; which was daily while her boy had treatments.

That was my answer!

I packed a sturdy durable bag that closed tight with food that could be warmed in the microwave, or eaten as it was, but none that required refrigeration.

Mainly high protein foods and a few treats.   

One time this same mom asked me to watch her other children because she had to take her son to his doctors appointment. While she was gone, I arranged with other women in our church to come in for a cleaning blitz.

Older kids did crafts with other kids as we cleaned making them feel special.

It’s a cherished memory of showing love and support, and an example of how to involve others.

What if I SAY or DO the wrong thing? 

How do I know THE BEST way to serve them?

It’s unfortunate, but a part of life that illness, tragedy or hardship will come to one of our loved ones,  a friend, or a neighbor at some time. 

And then –

  • What do we say?
  • What do we do?
  • How can we help?
  • What’s the best approach?
  • What about when the person or family has lost a loved one to suicide?

I have some tips and suggestions so that you will ALWAYS know how, when and the best ways to be of service and comfort.




This was a situation for one of my dear neighbors and I didn’t know what to say or do myself, so I researched a bit and I’m sharing with you the information I found.

Heartbreaking position for those grieving with the loss of a loved one to suicide

To read the helpful tips and ideas of what to do, click GRIEVING THE LOSS OF A LOVED ONE TO SUICIDE





This is another very sensitive issue and so tender for everyone involved.  

I have tried to gather information for us so we can be the most helpful in this situation. 

Click here on  What Do You Say When A Friend Or Family Member Loses A Baby?




Losing A Pet can be as devastating as a family member to those who love and care for them.. 

I have a tips and ideas you will find helpful in How To Comfort When There Is A Pet-loss






A small decorated vase with a narrow opening is a great idea to take to your friends or neighbors if you are on a budget. The flowers shown are Lilies of the Field.  However, baby’s breath, mini carnations, daisies or any inexpensive flower in a smaller vase, or one with a narrow opening would be just right for both the giver and the receiver.

*If you are taking flowers or balloons into a hospital check with the staff first.

***If taking flowers, ask to be sure they are not allergic to any one type of flower.A small decorated vase with a narrow opening so it doesn't require a lot of flowers. The flowers shown are Lilies of the field, but baby's breath, or mini carnations, or any inexpensive flower in a small vase, or a narrow opening vase would be wonderful

Showing love to those left behind when a friend or family member chooses suicide

Along with a vase of flowers, there are things we can do to reach out in a way that would be meaningful and appreciated by the person or family.


Let’s BEGIN with the emotions and physiological aspect and the ways we can be a tremendous beneficial influence in ALL  situations.


Treat them the same

It’s important to remember and treat the person, or the family as you always did.  This new diagnosis, or difficulty they are having isn’t ‘them’.  It isn’t a way to identify them, or take over their personality, it’s just the new situation or ‘normal’ for the time being.  Remembering that will help you treat them the same as you always did, and it won’t be as awkward with the new circumstances because it helps them feel ‘in control’ and somewhat their usual self.


Try to do something ‘normal’, out of the ordinary and FUN

For example

The picture of the baby at the top of the post is one of my grand daughters when she was born.  She was in the NICU also known as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Her brother had been in the hospital for several days before she was born which was terrifying.

Stan spent much of his time after work at the hospital with the sick grandchildren.

But when he was home, he took the other kids to Sam’s Club (their favorite) for lunch, then to the store to let them pick out their own match-box car.

When they came back to the house,  I gave each of them a few washable markers and their own empty toilet paper roll to make a car ‘power station’. They had a blast and it filled the time with creativity and imagination.

It doesn’t have to be expensive, just out of the ordinary and something THEY will enjoy.


Another day does begin

I had some of the grand kids while their mom was recuperating with the sick baby, I put on the musical ‘Bye Bye Birdie’, the one with Ann Margaret. They had a blast watching something they had never seen, and dancing with Birdie as the whole town swoons.

They thought it was great fun to fall on the ground right along with the character’s in the movie as Birdie played his guitar.

Get them up and MOVING

Laughter is a wonderful release from the stress for ALL ages.
kids 1
Try to provide as much normality as possible in their day by keeping them busy, as appropriate of course.

This provides a way for even little ones to feel somewhat in control, despite the circumstances.

They had a great time ‘helping’ Uncle Dallin clean.kids 2


Here is my son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter getting ready to come home from the hospital.

Our little NICU grandbaby was finally allowed to come home!baby 8After taking baby CPR classes at the hospital, learning how to run the oxygen machine, classes on how to use monitoring and other devices to help our little grand daughter stay alive, our son Derek remarked:

“Who said kids don’t come with instructions.”

Always try to keep a sense of humor, it really helps in these stressful situations.

photo 6

It seems if we live long enough we will have family and friends who will face challenges of some sort that will require help.

I have complied a little list of ideas that might be useful if you are ever in the situation of wondering how to help and be most useful:

  • Keep in mind that when a person, or family are in a crisis, they may have much different priorities then before. Be sensitive to their ‘new situation’ and that ‘normal’ things may not be a current concern.  Just understand and be supportive.
  • LISTEN, do not judge or give unwanted advice. Sometimes the other person simply wants to talk and get it out in the open.  Realize it may not be how they really feel; actually, it probably isn’t. Be kind about not repeating or passing on anything that is best kept between trusted friends. Venting is part of grieving.
  • Offer to clean the house or gift a professional house cleaning service.  Do not just offer, be proactive and DO something. 
  • Sometimes when asking what you can do to help is almost more stressful because the person/family may not be able to process everything that does need to be done, such as  the real necessities. You could ask about arranging to pick up other children for school, sports, scouts, etc. That would be a great relief to the parents and family.
  •  It is critical that the family members have a way to recharge and have the energy to face the ordeal at hand. By arranging for the parents/care giver to have the opportunity to exercise, get sleep, have meals brought in and babysitting the other children would be such a relief.
  • Offering to stay with a child or family member for a few hours at the hospital to give the adult(s) time to leave for a bit, would allow them to take a moment for them self, while knowing that someone was there and their loved one wasn’t alone.  
  • A gift certificate for a massage, a facial, a haircut, a manicure, a pedicure, a movie, favorite meal, etc., would be so appreciated for them to use while a trusted friend or family member sat with the sick/hospitalized patient.

More ideas:

  • Provide rides to and from school,  or activities for other family members. Also, rides to the hospital so the children can visit the parent(s).
  • A personal planner to keep track of all the details if this is an extended situation.  THIS ONE would be a great one. 
  • Take, or send, a care package to the sick patient. Part of this could also be gift cards to local restaurants or even a way to purchase food at the hospital for the parents/adults.
  • If it is holiday time, offer to shop for them, or even arrange a ‘Secret Santa’ for the family to take the pressure off them financially, as well as the overwhelming time it can be.
  • A journal is incredibly healing.  HERE is a terrific choice. 
  • And ONE for kids
  • If it is another child’s birthday time, offering to hold the party would be a tremendous burden eased for the parent(s) so the child does not feel left out or ‘on-the-back-burner’ so to speak.
  • Grocery shop for family. If the funds are tight for them, you might want to purchase the necessities or even see if neighbors want to go in with you.
  •  Do, or arrange for, housecleaning or yard work to be done.  That’s a HUGE help.
  • If they have pets, help or provide a source to feed and walk them.
  • Take siblings out for a fun activity or babysit them.
  • If you know them well, books and CD’s that will inspire and make them laugh would be a great choice.
  • Provide THANK YOU cards and stamps for them to send out. THESE would be a fabulous choice.
  • If it is overwhelming to keep family and friends up to date of the patients treatment and circumstance. You could offer to keep up a blog or even Facebook page for them; with their approval of EVERY SINGLE post/entry
  • Help the other family members feel useful. It empowers them and takes their mind off the situation at hand.

If you are looking for ideas on taking in a meal, I have GREAT information, lots of useful tips and recipes at: 

What You Need To Know About Taking In A Meal They Will Want To Eat

I hope this post has given you tools and resources to empower you, so that you feel comfortable reaching out to anyone in need; whether you barely know them, or they are close family or a dear friend. 

We all have ordeals to go through some time in life – that’s just the way it is. 

Having a person, an angel, who cares enough about us, our comfort, our family, to ACT and DO something selfless, means more than words can express.

Copyright A Mother’s Shadow, 2014, 2018

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.

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  1. I am so glad little sweetie is home and will definitely continue to pray for her and your family! These are some of the most excellent tips for showing support that I have ever come across. I love them and will keep them! Thank you!

  2. Deanna says:

    So glad she’s home! I’m sure big brothers are excited as well as everyone else. 🙂 Great list of suggestions. I love how you helped your friend. Packing meals like that is a great idea. Simple things make a huge difference. Even when we were just in the hospital the 2 nights after Spencer was born, I friend brought some food over because she knew how horrible our hospital’s food was. 🙂 And we were blessed to have a friend who let Kenna hang out with her both of those days. When I was in the hospital 4 years ago for almost 2 weeks, a friend brought Shaun food several times and when I came home more meals were provided. Since my family doesn’t live near by, we are really blessed with good friends and a great church family.

  3. Connie Rasmussen says:

    I am Carrie’s mom and modern technology is really a miracle. We were so blessed that Carrie only had to have oxygen for 4 hours, though born 8 weeks early at 3 lbs. 14 oz.
    I always said that we should come with a bag of replacement parts also and in our wonderful world of medicine and technology nowdays they use parts from stuff they make in a factory and parts from other wonderful people … Be sure to put “DONOR” on your drivers license . You never know when you may need a ‘part’ .

  4. Cindy Sheldon says:

    Carrie, Your granddaughter is such a cutie! They are very blessed to now have her home. But I bet they are scared to death with all the equipment and thoughts of what can go wrong. You are such a strong support person for them. It will get easier for them. They are still in my prayers as are all of you. Love ya.

  5. Carrie – This is a lovely post. So glad that your new granddaughter is home. These are great tips for helping others who are in difficult circumstances. I am going to pin this and share it with others.

  6. Praying for your sweet granddaughter! Thanks for sharing this at Accidentally Wonderful Wednesday! http://www.accidentallywonderful.blogspot.com/2014/03/accidentally-wonderful-wednesday-8.html

  7. Shobelyn says:

    Hi. I am hosting my first party Cunning Ladies’ Friday Party. I would love for my readers to see this entry also. Please join us.http://easytocookmeals.com/cunning-ladies-friday-party/

  8. You know I love this post, Carrie! Thanks so much for sharing it with Let’s Get Real this week.

  9. Wonderful post~ My family has been hit a few times over the years with different challenges and I remember how appreciative we were of any and all help. Sending prayers your way for your precious grand-daughter. Lynn @ Turnips 2 Tangerines

  10. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. We all have hard times and know others that are going through them, too. It can be such a stressful time for everyone. It’s great to have a list of things we can do to step in and help another to ease their burden during those times. You’ve come up with some I haven’t thought of myself ~ so thank you. And thank you for sharing this at Making Monday. Have a great weekend!!! 🙂

  11. Nicolette says:

    This is such great advice. It’s always hard to low what to do. We all want to help but not overstep boundaries. Thanks for sharing with the Mommy Brain Mixer. I hope to see you again this week.

  12. These are awesome tips. I was born with severe heart problems and had four open heart surgeries before the age of 10. There were so many people who reached out and helped us.

  13. Diane Roark says:


    Please give me an update on your granddaughter. How is she doing? This reminds me so much of my son Caleb.

    Thanks for sharing all these great ideas. I know from experience it would help be a blessings to others.

  14. I spent 3 weeks in the hospital on bed rest with #5, and the thing I appreciated most was when someone gave one of my four children a ride to the hospital so I could spend some one-on-one time with them (otherwise my husband had to bring them all, and someone would inevitably have a meltdown or all the kids would get stir-crazy in the little room and they couldn’t stay for long). It was also nice when someone stayed with my children so my husband could come and visit me by himself, too.

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