Thursday, June 5, 2014

28 UHeart Organizing: 12 Ways Help a Sick Friend

Unfortunately, there comes a time when someone we love goes through a rough patch.  It could be anything from a severe head cold that puts them out of commission for a few days, to a serious illness or a traumatic turn of events.  And in those moments, we are always left wondering, "What can I do to help?"  The sweet Serena, author of the fabulous pet loving site Pretty Fluffy, is here to share a slew of wonderful ideas for those in need of an extra hand during some of those challenging times. 

For a lot of us, we live insanely busy yet organized lives. We have our fail-safe systems, schedules and routines that keep things chugging along nicely.

But when life throws you a curve ball, the wheels fall off oh so quickly. Whether you’re dealing with an illness, a new baby, the loss of a loved one, work layoffs or one of the million other hardships people face, life can start spinning out of control.

That gorgeous laundry room that you redecorated? It’s now overflowing with dirty underwear and socks. Your organized pantry? Nearly empty. Your once spotless kitchen? Buried under pots and pans.

It may sound funny, but other than health and comfort, the first thing people facing hardship often crave is a return to ‘being normal’ and getting their life in order. Having things organized, tidied and put away in their right place. Having ironed clothes hanging in their cupboard. Opening their fridge and seeing it fully stocked.

No one is immune to the tough times in life. But when they happen to the people you love there ARE ways you can help. Flowers, cards and phone calls will always be special, but below you’ll find 12 tips specifically designed to help a friend carry on and keep living life as normally as possible.

Become a Personal Assistant for a Day

Help them go through their emails, set and out of office if needed, open and file their regular mail and assist them in making sure their bills are paid.

Next help them go through their diary to make sure any appointments they can’t make are rescheduled or postponed. Make notes of special occasions coming up, such a kids birthdays, so you can be on hand to assist with picking up gifts or organizing parties. The aim is to take as much pressure off your friend, while still keeping their lives running as close to normal as possible.

Paperwork and emails can pileup so quickly, that by spending a morning or afternoon doing this for your friend, you’ll be leaving them with a lot less stress and a whole lot of peace of mind.

Offer a Lift

When lives are turned upside down, so are schedules. By offering to drop the kids to school or pick them up from baseball practice, you’re letting the family carry on as normal as possible.

Clean the House

There’s nothing worse than a messy, smelly house when you’re sick or going through a rough patch. Not only can it be depressing, it can also hinder recovery. So while it’s much prettier to get your friend a bunch of tulips, they would probably appreciate you cleaning their bathroom much, much more!

You don’t have to do their whole house, but even a quick vacuum or taking out the trash can make all the difference.

If you’re living away from your friend, this tip is also easy to do long-distance by simply hiring a cleaning service in your absence.

Provide Pre-Packaged Meals

An oldie but a goodie, dropping by ready to cook meals is always handy. Just always double check if there are any new restrictions or food allergies you need to be careful of.

Also consider dropping off food in pre-packaged take away or microwave safe containers rather than casserole dishes. That way each meal can be frozen and heated up as needed, and your friend doesn’t have to worry about returning your plate ware. An extra tip – write the meal and use by date on washi tape on the side for quick reference.

Again, if you’re far away from your friend, there are fresh food delivery companies that can do this for you. Simply order online and fresh, delicious meals will be dropped to your friend’s door.

Do the Groceries

While most people think of dropping food around, it’s rare for a person to turn up with a jumbo pack of toilet paper. But this is exactly what is needed!

Simply pop over to your friend’s house, make a list of the household items they need and return to stock their shelves. Simple items like coffee, paper towels, washing liquid and toothpaste can make a huge difference in day to day living.


This one’s a no brainer. Offer to take the kids out of the house for the afternoon to give your friend time to rest. They’ll feel good knowing their kids are having a fun outing, and their body will get a much needed chance to recharge.

Walk the Dog

Pets are often forgotten when families are hit with hard times. Dogs especially can sense when things are wrong, and without daily exercise may start to show signs of stress – like barking or chewing – which makes things even worse!

By offering to walk your friend’s pup you’re helping them AND their furry friend – plus you get a fun way to exercise in the process – win win.

Do the Laundry

When you’re sick, laundry day comes and goes and suddenly there’s nothing to wear. You’re literally one step away from pulling a Homer Simpson and dressing up on old Halloween costumes you found in the attic.

A simple load of freshly washed laundry can be the make or break difference in a person getting out of bed that day. Really. Either collect and drop off just like a professional service, or if your friend is up to it, it’s a great way to go over and spend some time together while also helping out.

Take a Trip to the Beauty Parlor

I’m not talking massages and pampering here (although they would be nice too!) – I’m talking hair appointments, waxing and anything else your friend does regularly that keeps them feeling ‘put together’.

If they’re well enough, offer to organize and drive them to their appointment. If not, consider bring some DIY home beauty treatments to them. Even just brushing and washing someone’s hair can make them feel like a million dollars. That way they get to feel a little more ‘normal and refreshed’ and less ‘sick person’.

Organize a Library Service

Being sick or incapacitated can lead to hours of boredom. But not everyone has the money to be buying new magazines and DVDs every week.

Try gathering a group of friends together to pool old books, magazines, DVDs etc into a makeshift library that you can loan out to your friend. For no cost at all you’ve given them hours and hours of entertainment to help take their mind off things.

If a friend is dealing with a sick child, consider the same approach with toys, books and games. You’ll be Santa and their Birthday all rolled into one!

Mow the Lawn

This one sounds so simple, but until you have a jungle growing in your front yard you don’t realize how such a simple task can easily get out of control.

Organize a time to pop over to mow your friend’s grass, trim their bushes or do their weeding. Not only are you handing them a sense of house pride and organization back, you’re also giving them a nice outdoor space in which they can rest and recoup in.

Declutter, Reorganize & Decorate

This one is only if your friend is feeling physically and emotionally up to it. However for a lot of people, going through a hardship such as illness, leaves them inspired to make changes. Maybe they lost a lot of weight being sick and need to clean out their closet. A new mom might need help getting her nursery in order. A parent of a sick child might want to make over their bedroom to boost their little one’s spirits.

Again, it’s best to be guided by your friend’s responses; but a helping hand with these projects means they don’t get overwhelmed or overtired in the process. Plus it brings a sense of joy and achievement back into their lives that they may have been missing.

Have you ever found yourself helping a friend in need?
Or have you been that friend in need?
What are your tips that got you through?

"I am Serena Faber Nelson, a television producer, writer and fluffy dog owner. Obsessed with home décor, fashion, lifestyle and dogs – I set about creating Pretty Fluffy as a go-to guide for the modern pet owner. Featuring a range of stylish products, celebrity pooches, DIY projects and handy hints, Pretty Fluffy is a daily stop for smiles and inspiration, giving readers the tools they need to enjoy full and happy lives with their furry friends. My greatest loves include fresh peonies, Dirty Dancing (Nobody puts Baby in a corner), Banoffe Pie, spending waaay too much time on Pinterest, and hugging random dogs at the park. I currently live in Sydney, Australia with my husband, Andy, and my 11 year old Border Collie, Soda. As a long time fan, I am super excited to be joining the IHeart Organizing Team!"


  1. Great ideas here. A very thoughtful and kind post. I think it's a great thing for us all to think about what others may need /or to be thought of and helped out in times of hardship :)

  2. These are wonderful suggestions. When I had my twins, people promised to help and no one did! But when I was injured, and I really appreciated having my friend come by, occupy my girls and fold the laundry. Your friend will appreciate it, too.

  3. I love this post! Thank you! I would add that helping to organize meals when other friends and family want to pitch in is a huge help. We had twins four years ago and was amazing for us. Two friends used it to help coordinate chores and food so that people who wanted to help knew when to come and what to do. They could sign up for what they wanted to help with and there was no crossover with other people because it was blocked out on the calendar. Another good site is These sites also serve as a good way to communicate updates to one group of people so the recovering person is not having to repeat their results etc. over and over again.

  4. Great ideas! Practical and helpful.

  5. This post is so sweet!

  6. Sweet, thoughtful post. Thank you.

  7. I've weeded my neighbor's garden when her husband was very ill. I knew she had no time to do it AND was getting lots of company as family gathered. I knew it would be appreciated so much more tnan another vase of flowers.

    1. Such a thoughtful and practical gesture! It would have meant the world to her.

  8. Great ideas! A little intimate for some tastes I'd think (these are the last things I would want in a crisis) but I can see how incredibly helpful they could be to many people in a myriad of situations! Thanks!

  9. When a parent died a couple of years ago, several friends came by with meals, which was wonderful. But I opened the door one day to a friend who had paper plates and toilet paper! She said she knew I'd have extra people in and out, and that she didn't want me to have to think about these "basics." I thought it was the smartest idea ever, glad to see it on your list too.

    1. What a great friend! I know - although flowers and food first come to mind, basics like toilet paper help so much!

  10. When my daughter was born, my mom came by everyday to clean the house and keep me fed. Every night she took home a load of laundry and brought it back in the morning. That was enough to get us through those first rough two weeks with our sanity intact.

    Here in snowy New England we shovel each others walks when we do our own.

    1. How lovely - little gestures can make all the difference. I love the snow shovelling as well - what a great neighbourhood!

  11. Thank you so much for this thoughtful and kind post. These ideas are great.

  12. What a great, thoughtful post! Thank you!

  13. As someone who just went through chemo and radiation, I can tell you, all of the things on this list are excellent ideas. And, my advice? Don't just ask if there's anything you can do. Be specific. Call (or email) and say, "Hi (insert name here)! I know you're going through a hard time right now. I was wondering if it would be ok if I hired a house cleaner for you/made some meals and dropped them off/came and walked your dog/etc?" And, if you drop by, don't stay too long, even if you're great friends (unless the person asks you to). When my sister told me she hired someone to come clean my house, I cried like a baby.

  14. I love this post. It's definitely something to think about, then act on ;).

  15. All fantastic ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

  16. A couple of years ago when I broke my ankle I would not have gotten through the whole ordeal without a few close friends and family members making sure that I had meals that were easy to re-heat and that my fridge was stocked with easy healthy options. Also, my mom came over several times before I felt comfortable managing in the shower, and helped wash my hair in the sink. I can't tell you how good that felt and what a difference it made in my attitude and well-being.

    1. Isn't it amazing how simple things like healthy food and clean hair makes all the difference? x

  17. We just dealt with this last week, as we spent 5 days moving in to help my in-laws wile Dad was in CCU.

    Of all that we did, buying fresh flowers to replace the dead ones was met with the most joy. $3.99 gerbera daisies brought loving exclamations from Mom!

    Also, making breakfast each morning and packing her snacks.

    1. Sounds lovely! They would be so grateful.

  18. This is so sweet! Thanks for sharing.:)

  19. As someone who lives alone and battles chronic illness I would personally kiss the feet of anyone who did any of these things for me. People don't realize how difficult even everyday or all tasks can be when one is ill. I also noticed someone above who commented on being specific about what you can/will do and that is a terrific addition to a wonderful post. If you only have a small amount of time, just volunteer to do what you know you can accomplish so that you don't end up disappointing so done who might really be counting on that help. My biggest piece of advice would be to think about what you might need or want if you were in that circumstance, and most of all, don't forget or ignore someone who is ill or going through a rough patch. We all need one another, especially when things aren't going our way. And, if you are lucky enough to be. Able to help, make sure you do the same for someone else.

    1. You're right - even the smallest tasks can make such a big difference when facing hard times. Wishing you the best xx


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