1. Let them cry and let them be scared.
This is terrifying. Health is everything; without that you have nothing. Where did this “you have to be strong” mentality come from? There is definitely a time and a place for this, but I do not believe this is it. Let them cry, show fear, and listen and be there for them. Don’t make them feel they have to bottle up their feelings; it’s good for you to understand what thoughts are running through their head so you can be there to reassure them.
2. Be strong in front of them.
When they tell you their fears, you HAVE to be strong. And I know this is really fucking hard. I know. Put yourself in their shoes, that you are the one in bed and facing this. Imagine if the person that is comforting you is a mess and is just as scared as you (of course you are scared). The fear you are going through is instantly tripled and you start to panic; you can’t see a way out. Yes, you can cry and be upset, but don’t show them that you, too, could be thinking worst-case scenario and are scared shitless.
3. Talk to people.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to offload on people you trust. You too are going through this; you too need someone to cry on and let it all out. You need a strong person to lean on, the same person you are being for your loved one. This is so important, and it allows you to be stronger for them.
4. Make them laugh.
Laughter cures people—seriously, Google it. Disease = dis-ease in the body. Disease can only live in a stressed body, a body that is not in ease. In that moment when we all laugh, we are in a state of joy. I’m not saying laughing WILL cure this person, but it will bring moments of joy into their life, and that is exactly what you all need right now. And yes, I do believe that it can help in recovery.
5. Inspire them.
When my partner’s dad was ill, I would print off motivational quotes and stick them on the wall near the end of his hospital bed. I would tell stories of people who have come out of the other side—crazy stories of people who have completely healed themselves after a horrific accident. He told me that he used to stare at the pictures and read them again and again until he truly started to believe it. In fact, he remembers when he was in a coma and I sat reading him The Secret—the section on health—and telling him that if he TRULY believed he could wake up, he would, and he did.
6. Let them know you believe in them.
If someone truly believes in you, you feel like you owe it to them to prove them right. And isn’t it amazing when you have someone behind you all the way, being your cheerleader? You can be that extra motivation and what they focus on in their darkest moments.
7. Be there; really show up.
Be present when you are by their side, be there with them and enjoy their company, bring light into their day. Don’t be thinking of all of the work you have to catch up on when you get home, how tired you are, how it feels like Groundhog Day (I have been through all of this). Turn off your phone and be present with them.
8. Stay rested and healthy.
Look after yourself. I am a HUGE believer in healthy body, healthy mind. Eat well, sleep, exercise to relieve stress, and you will be a better support to them. I went through around two weeks of hitting the bottle with my boyfriend when his dad was diagnosed, and I realized two things:
• I am not prepared for what I may have to deal with today because I am tired and feel like crap;
• When I drink, the situation becomes 100 times worse. Drinking away your depression is a lie, it makes it so much worse!
9. Set goals for them.
This was really powerful for my partner’s dad. When he was starting physio and learning to stand and move again I would set little goals such as, “Take 2 steps by the time I come back in four days.” He focused in on those goals and used them for that extra motivation.
10. Praise them.
Tell them how incredible they are, how proud you are of them, how inspiring they are! They need to hear this! Tell them you love them every day.
I know if you are reading this someone you love is very sick, and I am sorry you are going through this. It IS a beautiful world we live in but unfortunately, it’s not a fair world. Fill it with love as much as you can and be someone’s light in the darkness.