A good friend of mine is having really shit time. Husband left her before Christmas and she has now had cancer diagnosis. She is having an urgent op on Monday, and I assume there'll be either chemo or radiotherapy or both to follow. I've seen ideas on gifts I could get, and have asked her about childcare (the Dad still has contact with the kids so I guess he'll be first choice to look after them), but I'm wondering if there are any other practical things I can do to help? I've obviously asked her if there is anything, but I know people don't often actually say what they need. So offering to make up some meals and cleaning is about as far as I've got, does this sound helpful? Is there anything else?
I have young children myself so I'm not sure how much time I will have, but I want to offer what I can, and perhaps rally round some mutual friends who I know will want to help. Any ideas gratefully received
When one of our friends was ill some of us made a rota so that she had someone on hand daily to help with childcare / shopping / cooking in the immediate post operative period. Of course it depends on your friend, she may be more private but she may be happy to accept.
As someone who is having a difficult time it can be difficult to say 'actually yes can you' with the practical help I think a more direct approach of 'I will.... pick the kids up on x day if you need it, cook you something and bring it over, I will pop over on X and help/tidy' obviously you know her better. But when I was poorly people would offer very kind things, but actually then asking for those kind offers to happen can be difficult. So suggesting days gives her more chance of actually taking up the offer. She is lucky to have a lovely considerate friend
Money is often a huge worry with a cancer diagnosis, even more so if you are a lone parent with no second income to fall back on if you have to give up work. make sure your friend is aware of the help available and perhaps find information for her by ringing macmillan or your local CAB ( if she needs help that is !). people often find the forms overwhelming and need a bit of help.
Cleaning is a great help! If not done by you personally then a paid cleaner would be a thoughtful gift. You could also drop off a pack of useful items like loo paper, tinned soups, kitchen roll etc, all the dull but necessary stuff. Maybe colouring books or whatever is appropriate for the kids' ages. Any time you could have the kids round yours when she needs a rest, I'm sure it will be appreciated to give them a change from their dad's place and give them some distraction.
Agree with Doughnuts advice depending on age of kids and how Ill friend is feeling. Sometimes just a chat and treating talking normally over a cuppa is good as well. Depending on age of kids taking them to school if when not with her partner and she has them but doesn't really feel up to it. Don't offer more than you can commit to though. She's lucky to have you in her life.
Along similar lines to other suggestions, rather than saying 'let me know what I can do' make specific suggestions and see what makes her face light up. Lots and lots of people are keen to help once or twice, then get bored or too busy. So setting up a rota for dropping off meals, or whatever she seems to find helpful, will be really valuable as it means some longer term support. Don't forget, if you do meals, to ask if she has any favoured recipes that her kids like.
My friend seemed to like it when I texted every time I was anywhere near a supermarket and asked if I could pick anything up for her. She also liked help with dog walks.
And very much lifts to radio- and chemotherapy so she didn't have to worry about parking.
She also liked knowing she could ask me to come over and sit with her if she was feeling down or frightened and distract her. I lent her some books and dvds and we talked about those a lot.
She also liked, when she was more seriously ill, receiving emails and texts about everyday life and memories from years back. If something happened to me that made me smile or reminded me of her, I would email her and tell her so she knew she was in my thoughts wherever I went.
Her story had a sad ending but I am glad I tried to what I could. We grew very close. I tried hard to keep the image of who she was essentially in my mind, not letting her become a 'patient' all the time.