Whether you live close by, a few hour’s drive away or on another continent, keeping up with your loved one’s medical journey, the twists and turns of their treatment and their ever-changing emotions will ensure they feel less alone and that you are able to support them better.
Encouraging your loved one therefore to post regular updates on a blog, or (if you are trusted by them and have their permission) posting updates for them, is a great way to create a really active community around the person who is unwell and empower others to know when and how to lend a hand or give some space. Social media makes this incredibly easy but aside from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, specialist patient-focused blog websites can really help everyone stay connected (see below for a few suggestions).
In addition, many patients say they find comfort and clarity from simply writing their thoughts down in the ‘old-fashioned’ way in a paper journal. In which case, splashing out on a really lovely book and pen for them might be the perfect way to show you care. Any stationery shop near you should be able to show you a selection to choose from.
Some patients want to share their experiences ‘live’ and would appreciate someone to chat to, so making time to sit with and listen to them, laugh and cry together is a truly generous gift.
And finally, don’t forget to touch base every now and again with your loved one – either with comments in response to their social media posts, or via text messages, emails, phonecalls and even cards. You don’t have to say much. Sometimes simply a ‘thinking of you’ can make all the difference and if you do want to send a card we particularly love the Empathy range developed by a patient.
As its says on the website: “No more repeating the story over and over. Connect with all of your family and friends at once, giving you time to focus on what matters.” You can write entries as often as you like and share photos and videos as well, all the while ensuring that only those who you want to communicate with can read and respond to your posts. It is free to use.
Another free-to-use personalisable patient website with an inbuilt fundraising tool.
The Good Gym
If you know somebody in the UK that might be feeling isolated because of their condition, or because they are elderly and do not have any support network nearby, then you might want to look up the fantastic concept of the Good Gym. A centrally coordinated group of runners who exercise by visiting people who are alone, providing them with company or helping them with a particular task.
Emily McDowell, an artist who created fun and witty postcards for a living, created a series of cards after her own cancer diagnosis. These cards are funny, meaningful and honest gifts for people suffering from serious illnesses. “I created these empathy cards for serious illness because we need some better, more authentic ways to communicate about sickness and suffering”