Submitted by: Lisa Barker
The following story is from Lisa, who offers advice from her own experience of a month-long stay in a hospital. Lisa says,
“After gallbladder removal surgery, at the age of twenty-five years old I was unexpectedly diagnosed with a rare liver condition. Within eighteen hours I was in liver, kidney, and respiratory failure. I was placed at the top of the transplant waiting list. The next day, I received a life-saving liver transplant from a 15-year-old female who passed away in a car accident.”
Here is Lisa’s list of helpful and not-so-helpful things to do when a friend or family member is in the hospital.
Keep it brief. Above all, says Lisa, keep the visit brief. “When you are recovering in the hospital, you are exhausted. Our community of friends and family showered us with love, and they managed to do so very quickly. I noticed every small gesture and appreciated the quick visit so I could focus on healing!”
Care baskets and meals. If you like to cook or bake, you can bring a homemade meal for the family members who are caring for the hospital patient. Lisa also found care baskets filled with hospital necessities such as cozy socks, a hair brush and hair ties, hygiene products, a magazine or journal, healthy snacks, bottles of water, and an encouraging card very helpful.
Do laundry. Believe it or not, it was very helpful when friends or family members took Lisa’s nightgowns home to wash and return them within a few hours. “It was so nice to be able to wear my own personal night clothes while I was recuperating,” says Lisa.
Pray. “It was comforting for people to pray over me while I was sick,” recalls Lisa. A favorite verse that people would pray over her was Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” During that time of lying in the hospital bed, Lisa said that verse helped to “calm my soul and reminded me that He is control and had me in the palm of His hand.”
Be there. Sometimes, the best thing you can do for a person who is in the hospital is to simply be there for them. “When people would stay and listen to me pour my heart out, that meant so much,” says Lisa.
Although Lisa received many wonderful gifts and generous gestures, she did encounter a few situations that were not helpful.
No comparisons. “The one thing that was not helpful was when people would compare my situation to someone they knew that went through something similar,” says Lisa. At the time, the patient is concerned primarily about their own situation they are facing. “This is not the appropriate time for comparison of health battles,” offers Lisa.
Avoid vague offers of help. Many people say, “Please let me know if I can help.” They are well-meaning, but it’s a vague and empty statement. Instead, says Lisa, show up! Actually do something to demonstrate that you care.
Lisa’s hospital stay taught her the importance of people who reach out when a loved one is in the hospital. She says, “Let’s be a community who shows up and is the hands and feet of Jesus!”
About our featured guest: Lisa Barker is an organ transplant recipient. She and her husband Reid are on a mission to glorify God and share the message about the beauty of organ donation. Learn more at Lisa’s blog, Team Barker.
[Editor’s Note: Wisdom of the Wounded’s Karen Mulder met Lisa at Proverbs 31’s She Speaks Conference. Lisa submitted her story via our Share Your Care Well Story page. If you have a story of caregiving to share, please consider sharing it.]