How to love a friend who is sick

We are all called to offer pastoral care to sick friends, loved ones and in our parishes, sometimes to folks we don’t know well. It’s important to be positive, not maudlin, and to consider what would really be most appreciated. offers some practical suggestions:

Provide a dose of delight. Take a sick friend on an excursion to a “delightful place,” such as a botanical garden, nature trail, beach or forest preserve. It can be a soul-soothing experience.

For a friend who is seriously ill and housebound, drop off some food, books or videos, but keep your visit short so as not to tire them out.

Burn a CD of your friend’s favorite songs or a selection of soothing, tranquil music.

Organize a group care network for a sick loved one. Email a group of close friends and set up a rotating system for coming over and helping with household chores or caregiving.

Offer to help with the day-to-day stuff that needs to be done, such as a grocery trip, a Target run, doing a load of laundry, bringing home cooked food or walking the dog.

When you’re at the grocery store call your sick friend and say “I’m here what do you need?” Or, “I have the kids after school… don’t worry.”

Be a stable, reliable presence in your friend’s life. Speaking calmly and checking in regularly can be a huge comfort to someone whose life has been turned upside down by a health challenge.

See the full list here. What do you think is most helpful to someone who is sick, and what bedside manner do you think is least helpful– and even downright irritating?

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