I have a new appreciation for people with disabilities, who are on long-term bed rest, or the elderly who find it painful to simply get out of bed and do simple things because of back and leg pain! After spending nearly two months on bed rest in the third trimester of my fourth pregnancy, I have learned a little bit about the incredible difficulty of . . . doing nothing.
I wanted to write some helpful tips for friends and family of someone who is stuck in bed. Here’s what I think they’d really like from you.
- Share Your Life! I felt so isolated from the world. My favorite texts were ones from my friends simply telling me the trivial things they were doing.
“We went to the park today and Jane tried to eat goose poop!”
“Tried a new recipe that was awesome tonight, I’ll send it to you!”
“I lost my keys for 20 minutes and found them in the play kitchen!”
I don’t care what type of story you’re trying to tell me. I’ve had NOTHING happen to me so I’d love to hear about anything that’s happening to you!
- Drop Off Food or Coffee! My husband is fabulous and cooked food for our family but man, what I wouldn’t give for some teriyaki chicken or some pad thai. I also would have loved a mocha or some kind of fun coffee drink just to shake things up! Those aren’t necessities but when you’re alone and can’t do anything, a little fun food sounds awesome! Don’t even come in the house unless your friend begs you. Just drop it off!
- G-Chatting and Texting Welcome! I rarely looked presentable and I struggled to shower or take a bath because it hurt my body so much so I didn’t really want to FaceTime anyone but I did enjoy g-chatting and texting!
- Probably Don’t Visit. I didn’t particularly want visitors, which is so out of character for me! But the truth is, some days I was lonely and I would have loved a friend to pop by. Other days I was super depressed and living under a dark cloud and I didn’t want to expose my bad mood to anyone. I never knew which day I was going to have, so making plans felt dangerous. I could be way off here and maybe your friend really does want company--but if she keeps saying no, maybe this is why.
- Bring a Book or a DVD! During this time of bed rest, we didn’t have a lot of money. I couldn’t buy books or afford to rent DVD’s. These would have been easy things to borrow from friends. Give your friend a few choices and then drop them off.
- Fresh Flowers! You know what’s almost never overrated . . . flowers. They’re so simple and yet they really do make a difference. When you can’t leave your room, having some sweet smelling, brightly colored flowers makes you feel loved!
- Invite My Kids To Something. It was really hard to spend two of the nicest weather months in bed. I felt so terrible for not giving my children a magically fun summer. I was so thankful when another family would invite my kids and my husband on a hike, out for a picnic, for a game night, etc. Even though I couldn’t go, it made me feel so happy that they were out doing social things, when I couldn’t be the one to arrange them.
- Don’t Ask Me How I Am. I never knew how to respond to this. I either have to give a some fake, syrupy answer: “Doing great!” “Trusting in God!” “Hanging in there!” Or I could give a dark, depressing response: “This is the worst!” “I hate life!” “When will this be over?” I didn’t really want to say either of those types of things. Ask me a more detailed question . . . about anything, really. But I would get 2 to 5 “How are you doings” per day and I know people meant well and it does make me feel loved to know people are caring. I just didn’t know how to respond.
- Pray! Ladies, there is real power in prayer. Don’t just say you’re going to pray for someone. Stop and pray a Hail Mary for them . . . or a whole rosary! There were days that a supernatural peace would wash over me and I bet it was those moments that someone was praying for me!
- Offer Food or Childcare. I’m adding this one here because I bet a lot of people need this type of help. Since my mother lives with me and my husband essentially works from home, I didn’t need these two things. Most people don’t have that kind of help so offering to come do some cooking or simple babysitting would probably be a huge blessing for a mama on bed rest!
Again, this is only my personal opinion and with all our different types of ailments and personalities, maybe your friend needs something else. I was surprised at how introverted I became, despite being a huge extrovert.
I was also surprised at how little I wanted to talk about or share my struggles and vulnerabilities when I’m normally quite open about what I’m going through. It’s as if I spent so much time thinking about them that by the time I was with or chatting with someone else, I wanted to talk about anything except me.
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I hope this is helpful and that you can be a blessing to someone who doesn’t have the full use of their body! It’s an incredibly humbling thing to go through and we need our friends and family to help keep us strong!
Copyright 2017 Sterling Jaquith
About the Author
Sterling Jay is a Catholic life coach. She is a wife and unschooling mom of 6 young children and lives in Boise, Idaho. She is a co-host of the Made For Greatness podcast. As an adult convert, she loves sharing her passion for the faith. She believes Catholic moms can change the world! Learn more at MadeForGreatness.co. See her books on Amazon!