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Supporting Friends and Family Who are In the Hospital for Holidays

The holidays are a special time of year for many families, but when a loved one or close friend is sick, celebrating the holidays can be particularly challenging.

When someone is in the hospital during the holidays, you may not know how to approach the situation. Do you bring gifts? Do you talk about your holiday plans, or would that be insensitive? Do you have a small holiday celebration with family and close friends in the hospital room or would that bring your loved one unwanted attention and stress?

Every person is different, but there are simple things you can do to make a loved one feel part of the holidays.

Show You Care

Most people appreciate company when they are in the hospital. Show your support by calling them, sending a get well card or by making regular visits to the hospital (but be courteous and call before you drop by).

Hospitals make many people uncomfortable, and people often avoid them for this reason. However, a loved one who is in the hospital needs all the support he or she can get. Even a short visit is appreciated. Sit with them and talk about normal life, things in the news and comfort them just by being there.

Create a Care Package

When a loved one or close friend has major surgery or a long hospital stay, there are things your loved one may not have that actually brings comfort. This can be a favorite blanket or book or a special holiday meal.

Creating a care package with favorite items and essentials will make your loved one feel better. It may sound basic, but socks, a toothbrush and grooming tools are must-haves when someone is in the hospital. You also can add holiday goodies to your care package, including games, decorative cookies and DVDs (like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas”). All of these items will make your loved one smile and show your support.

Be a Listening Ear

Often, it just helps to listen. Everyone reacts to hospital stays or major surgery differently, but some people may want to talk about the experience. Be a listening ear for your loved one. Laugh and cry with the person, but also keep your loved one’s spirits up. Most of all, allow the person to express their feelings in a safe place.

Offer Your Support in Other Ways

When a family member or close friend is in the hospital, life still goes on. The person likely has responsibilities at home and in his or her community that can’t be addressed because of an illness or hospital stay.

Offer to help with some of these responsibilities, like picking kids up from school, baking cookies for the holiday bake sale or volunteering to help with the annual Christmas pageant at the person’s church. Help clean your loved one’s home, hire a cleaning service or gather a group of family and friends to do it over a weekend. Put up a Christmas tree or holiday decorations. Make a casserole and bring it to the person’s home, so that the family can enjoy a nice home cooked meal while their loved one is in the hospital.

Do anything you can to make your loved one’s life a little easier for when he or she returns home.

No one wants to be in the hospital during the holidays, but you can make your loved one’s stay a little easier by being a constant presence during this difficult time. Visit as much as you can, bring a care package and help with whatever the person needs inside and outside of the hospital. Your encouragement and support will help your loved one better cope with being in the hospital during the holidays.