Here’s the thing about being sick, it’s not the sick person’s fault. Right? I mean you pay the three million and seven dollars to take the family to Disney World for Christmas and only four minutes into your trip before you’ve exited the monorail, your child vomits, profusely. At first, you tell yourself it’s just a fluke. It’s all the excitement, or travel, or both. But then things start exploding out the other end and their fever spikes to massive and miserable heights. You eyeball your spouse and have a silent conversation. One of you is taking the vomit-covered child back to the hotel for a day of vomit filled wonder. Your child cries. “There, there buddy, it’s not your fault. You didn’t mean to get sick,” you say.
But what if you’re an adult and your illness isn’t so temporary? Is the world still so forgiving? Do loved ones still volunteer to spend their days trapped in a room with you in vomit-filled wonder?
The answer might be no. In fact, the answer might be more like being told, “It’s your fault” everywhere you turn. So often, these folks go to the doctor only to be handed an antidepressant and told, “Lose weight” They pour their breaking hearts out to family and friends only to be told, “Buy this supplement or exercise more.” They go to church looking for support and encouragement only to be told, “Have more faith!” Everywhere they look, the message is the same. This is your fault. You should be doing more.
I’ve often suspected when bad, painful or unexpected things happen in the lives of others, we are tempted to cast blame as a means of control. If we can somehow make this event or series of events the fault of the victim, then we can rest assured these things would never happen to us. After all, we control our own destinies because we eat more nutritious foods, are better with our money, send our children to better schools or what have you.
Our worlds might spin out of control if we accepted the fact that control is an illusion and no matter what steps we take perfection is unobtainable. Sickness may come, tragedy may strike, and devastation may make its way into our lives. And when it does, we’ll need help, not judgment.
And what is helpful for those in your world who are battling illness on a daily basis you might ask?
Here are 5 tangible ways to support the chronically ill in your world:
- Play Chauffeur- I am often unable to drive myself to and from my appointments because of treatments I’ll be having at the appointments. This practical act means my husband doesn’t have to take off work to drive me. It also means I get to enjoy your company during what may be an uncomfortable or scary time.
- Donate Blood or Plasma- Each month I receive donor antibodies via IVIG infusion because my body doesn’t generate enough on its own. These donors save lives. Their donations are used to treat over two hundred different conditions.
- Cook a Meal- I am often too fatigued or in too much pain to cook. And yet, my family still wants to eat! It’s a tremendous blessing when friends fill our freezer with meals or start a meal in the crock-pot.
- Clean the House- House cleaning is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only does this mean your chronically ill friend or family member doesn’t have to strain their body by trying to do the cleaning themselves, they also get to enjoy resting in a clean house. Is there anything better?
- Be a Babysitter- We often need someone to pick children from school, drive them to afterschool events or to entertain them during my appointments and rather lengthy treatments. Knowing my children are safe and well cared for allows me to put my mind at ease.
The next time someone in your world gets sick, pat them on the back and remind them they didn’t get sick on purpose. Volunteer to spend a day of vomit filled wonder with them if need be, and then start to work on this list. You’ll be the hero we all need.