Helping the parents of a chronically ill child can be a challenge. When a child is first diagnosed, help and good wishes abound. However, as the illness progresses to chronic or terminal, it seems well-wishers don't always know what to say or do. That translates into parents feeling alone. I have observed that most parents won't ask for what they really need, instead they say things like " We are doing OK" or " No, we really don' t need anything right now but thanks for offering."
Here are some ideas for what a family might really need but be to shy to ask:
1. Money.... hospital and doctor visits are not always close to home. The cost for gas, parking, vending machines, and cafeteria meals is not cheap. Extra change always comes in handy. A gift bag with a card and a roll of quarters is a great way to say you really care and is a small enough gift the recipient doesn't feel guilty accepting the token.
2. Prepared Meals... if the inpatient stay is long, a home cooked meal delivered to the hospital is a blessing after eating from machines and cafeterias. If the child is back home, a prepared meal or casserole once a week is a real treat for the parents who do child care 24/7 and don't want to or feel like cooking.
3. Sibling care... a day or week of babysitting, planning an activity for the other children at home, or carpooling the other kids to school activities can help normalize the life for the healthy kids. It can also relieve grandparents who might need to visit the hospital or are not physically able to care for the kids full time. Give parents exact times and dates you are available rather than an open invitation to call if needed.
4. Clean... cleaning and household chores get put on hold when a child is seriously ill. They are also not the things you ask others to do for you, however to come home to a clean house is a real treat. Also, laundry, mowing, shoveling, windows, or any seasonal job that the parents haven't had time to do would be appreciated. When my brother-in-law was hospitalized unexpectedly for a few weeks, our family finished roofing his house, a project he started before he got sick. Use your imagination and look around to find those chores that need doing. What you do will be appreciated beyond words, I promise.
This is not a complete list but will spark other ideas for you to consider. Think about what you would want from others if you were in their situation and go from there. Blessing others is always a good thing. I challenge you to be a blessing today!