Four Tips for Helping a Sick Friend | Girlfriend Advice from Elizabeth Norton

The Story of Being Sick“To be depressed is to be lonely; to have a FRIEND is to be happy.” Guido

Girlfriends are there for each other – in sickness and in health, right? Great girlfriend advice on how to really be there for each other, especially in sickness.

We all go through ‘stuff – bad stuff like sickness or sadness, fear or frustration, loneliness or stressful life changes. Those are tough times – especially if we feel like we’re going through them alone. Thanks to girlfriend ELIZABETH NORTON for sharing great girlfriend advice in this guest blog about a time when she needed friends. She shares the insights we all need to be a better friend. (Thanks Elizabeth!)

There was a time—when I was sick—when I felt like I had no friends. I am sure I had “some” friends, but none of the friends I had were ever sick.  They didn’t know what it was like to be sick. I was lonely. I isolated myself from my friends because I thought people had to understand me in order to love me.  It was a hard time, physically because I was sick, and emotionally because I was asking people to understand why and what was happening to me, even though neither I nor the doctors knew the why or what.

Looking back, I realized I was truly learning the value of friendship. It isn’t something that is an occasional “hey” on the phone or night out with the girls. I learned during that lonely time it was something so much more. It was hard for me to be a friend during those sick years. I couldn’t physically help my friends by watching their kids.  I hated talking on the phone because silence was awkward and absolutely nothing was going on in my life. I often wrote and hoped my friends would read my blog. I had yearned for companionship because I believe it is in my very human nature; but when I was sick there were days I didn’t feel human.

I now have some amazing friends, who were strangers at that time, who touched my life. Here are four tips for how to help a friend who is going through something that you do not understand. That thing may be divorce. It may be losing a child, or like me, it may be a sickness few know anything about.

The conversation needs to continue. If the person doesn’t want to talk, try to be persistent. If the person aims to be silent, encourage conversation online or in public responses via social media platforms. If they are online, get online. If they are offline send cards; even without a response, send them. If they are just filled with quotes, the latest gossip of Hollywood, or the latest comic from the newspaper just stamp it, address it, and mail it.  Share the gift of talking.  The duty of conversation is a hard one when emotions are running high but conversation can help the healing process. Don’t let your friend shut you out. Talking is important and so is your relationship with your friend.

Just help. Even if you don’t understand—just be there. Even if you think your friend is “just” depressed…you are as much needed as a friend that loves. Think outside the “normal” friendship helping box.  Sure, include babysitting or making a cup of tea—but if the person is sick in bed think about new sheets for the bed, think candles for the room, or think about the small details that make a difference.

Companionship. Companionship is hard. Many days while I was sick, just getting out of bed was hard. Life was hard.  I wouldn’t be able to go to a party. If someone made me, I ended up lying on the floor.  It pressed my dignity to new lows and I wasn’t socializing with girlfriends. Instead, I had become an object of conversation for others at the party (or so I felt). Suggest going for a car ride (that’s all!), coming over for a cup of this “new tea you want to try” or (as one great friend who knew just getting out of bed was an event for me) washed my hair. She also styled it and for a day I felt like a better version of me.

Girlfriendology to be depressed, friendship quoteLaugh often and love much. Some of my best relationships are ones filled with laughter. Even if it is just two moms being crazy with our children, laughter is a main ingredient in our friendship. There is a special kind of laughter that my friendships bring to me. So, what to do when there isn’t much laughter to be had? Make them laugh if you can. I had a friend play scrabble bedside with me. Even things you can’t say, write in letters. Know that laughter can be shared over sealed envelopes or secret emails, just as much as high school notes did folded up in weird ways as you passed each other in the hallway!  YouTube is a wealth of laughter.  Don’t be afraid to be weird. Don’t be afraid to be goofy.  Just “make them laugh, make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh.”

The worth of friendship is often taken for granted.  It is something that very few people really understand the value of.  Friendship and being a girlfriend is a true gift, and that gift is never quite needed as much as when that person is sick or going through something difficult.  I truly believe conversation, companionship, and laughter are not only a gift, but they are a key ingredient to feel your best. If you know of a girlfriend that is suffering from sickness, know they probably need you now more than ever…for you hold a gift that is worth more than any doctor could prescribe.

Elizabeth Norton is a former party planner by trade now turned mom, wife, and so much more. She owns a site called Party Planning Professor.  She is currently writing an e-book on how to throw a princess party.  She is the creator of “Classroom budget D-ville Defense” adoption project, Today Show Mom VIP, Hershey #summercelebrations ambassador, Speaker at #140conf, founder and co-owner of Nj Dialogue. You can follow Elizabeth on twitter @Elizabeth_N.

How have your friends been there for you when you’re sick or going through ‘stuff’? What girlfriend advice do you have for being a better friend when a girlfriend is sick or going through ‘stuff? SHARE in the comments – thanks!

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