“Support came from everywhere: cards, flowers, food, gifts, calls and friendship. A nurse who was with me when I got more bad news was able to see the exhaustion on my face and in my body language. She gave me a prayer of sorts that had such an uplifting message that I turned to it over and over again. I gave it to my husband when he was diagnosed with cancer, too, and have shared it with so many people who are going through difficult times. It still speaks to me and I keep a small copy in my wallet.” —Leslie M.
- Check in consistently—and spread out the TLC. When the dust settles and the newness of a tragedy fades, families can sometimes feel forgotten, especially if their journey lasts for months or years. Save up and share your support later on, because that’s often when people need it most. Offer to feed or walk their dog, pick up a grocery order, gift the family a housecleaning service or grab them something while you’re out running errands.
“Along the way, it was important for us to celebrate all the benchmarks, even the little ones.” —Megan Z.
- Honour each milestone. Find ways to help them celebrate along the way (final chemo, “new 1st birthday,” going home from the hospital, good news or reaching a recovery goal). Send uplifting decorations for their hospital room or home, or create and share a celebratory playlist for them to listen to.
“One friend started a meal train for me, where I got several nights a week off of cooking. Another friend texted me to say ‘Please put a cooler on your porch next week. We will be supplying dinner every night. XO.’” —Mo S.
- Take care of the caregiver, too. In many cases, they are likely neglecting their own comfort or health in order to support their loved one. Consider care packages of snacks, delivered meals, books, magazines, gift cards or games. Extra credit if you can bring the caregiver a healthy snack (desserts are delicious, but may not help keep up their energy).