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Top 10 Things to Say and Do for a Parent of a Chronically Ill Child

Kellan Wish Kid and Dad
Many people find it difficult to know what to say or do for a caregiver of a chronically ill child. We’ve compiled a list of the best advice from comments on the Make-A-Wish® Facebook page.

Recently, we posted an article on Facebook sharing a piece titled, “10 Things Not to Say to a Mom of a Chronically Ill Child,” and posed our own question, “What SHOULD you say?”

We received over 150 responses from a variety of caregivers of chronically ill children and their family and friends. The overall consensus seemed to be that the best thing to do in a situation where kind words can never be enough is to show care and support through action. Here are some of the best suggestions for what to say and do:

  1. Susan C.G.: “‘I’d like to stop by the hospital to visit, can I bring you a coffee/ice tea/blanket or something from home that you need?’”
  2. Sammantha O.:  “When you say, ‘What can I do to help, can I get you anything?’ Our response will always be no we are ok thank you. Don’t just ask, DO!”
  3. Kerry T-F.: “There are no words in the world that can ever make sense out of sick children. All you can do is try to be helpful, try to relieve some of their other burdens.”
  4. Connie D.: “Say I’m here…and then be there. Don’t wait to be invited. Come over and do some laundry, sit with the child so Dad or Mom or both can get needed bills paid, take a shower, whatever. Put actions in words.”
  5. Brittany N.W.: “‘I’m here for you, talk to me, and I will listen. I will only give my thoughts if you want me to.’ A lot of the time people forget that a shoulder to cry on, an ear to vent to, and a non-judgmental heart is needed the most.”
  6. Steve B.: “This is a difficult – and very emotional – subject. Here’s some thoughts from a dad of a pediatric cancer survivor. Sometimes people say well-meaning, but hurtful, things…Here’s the thing – and I learned this from my father-in-law – the only thing that really matters is being there. You can visit with the parent of a chronically, or critically ill child and not say a word. Your presence says it all.”
  7. Dorie N.: “The best thing I got was a cup of coffee! After an extremely long night, all I wanted was a cup of coffee and a shower…She stayed with my child so I could go down the hall to the parents’ bathroom and take a hot shower. It was heaven!”
  8. Aissa B.: “‘Here is wine and chocolate.’”
  9. Kaydee K.: “I will add, 9 times out of 10, I don’t want to talk about cancer at all, sometimes I just want some good old fashion girly gossip talk.”
  10. Rita H.B.: “Don’t say I know how you must feel. Because you don’t. Just do something nice – heartfelt without asking … ”

Let us know in the comments or on the original Facebook post what you think should be said and done for the parents of chronically ill children. 

The emotions surrounding a life-threatening diagnosis and a family’s struggle to deal with their child’s illness can be difficult to understand from the outside. Parents and caretakers of the child have their own way of dealing with the stress and pain, which is why a wish can be a point of hope to look forward to for the entire family.

Even if you don’t qualify to refer a child for a wish, share the wish referral form with parents, medical professionals, and the children themselves.

About this Blog

Wish Nation gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Make-A-Wish®. See how wishes come together and how they change lives forever. Hear directly from those who work or volunteer here, or those who have been transformed by a wish. And learn why we are so committed to someday granting the wish of every eligible child, every year.

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June 25, 2012 - 11:25 AM

June 25, 2012 - 11:25 AM

June 25, 2012 - 11:25 AM

June 25, 2012 - 11:25 AM

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