HOSPITAL CARE: Day 16 of 31 Days of Creative Caring

When someone has a lengthy hospital stay …

it’s a good idea to think creatively.

What are the things I’d want or need if I were that person?

Several years ago, early on a Saturday morning, I learned of a car accident that had happened the evening before. The 20-something daughter of fellow church members had sustained a brain injury and was in the hospital. Her family was very active in the church and had many friends who flooded the hospital the evening prior when they got the word. I wasn’t among them; I was more “acquaintance” than “friend.”
But by Monday morning, I knew most people would be back at work, perhaps even the girl’s father, and her mother might be sitting alone … waiting for her next opportunity to go into ICU … and praying that her daughter would recover. I knew her mother was a very organized person and suspected she might be needing something to help her re-focus. For some reason, I had a feeling she could use a notebook. Nothing fancy. Just an inexpensive little notebook. I knew if I were her, I’d want to make notes of when things happened, what had been said, who had stopped by…

As it turned out, mid-morning when I arrived in the ICU waiting room, there was Linda … alone. I was empty-handed except for the notebook and a hug. She started to cry and said she’d just been thinking that she should go to the gift shop and see if they had something to write on.
A couple of weeks later, as Linda continued her vigil in the ICU waiting room, I returned with a large package of notecards and stamps. She agreed that she was ready to begin writing a few thank you notes for the outpouring of care her family had received from so many…
I’m happy to report that, over the next couple of years, Linda’s daughter made an almost-complete recovery and eventually married and had children of her own.

When someone has a lengthy hospital stay …

Take a basket of munchies for the waiting family. Fruit, muffins, nuts, raisins, granola bars, chocolate, mints … anything that might provide a light meal or quick pick-me-up during the day. It’s also a good idea to include magazines or paperback books for an occasional distraction.
Kidnap the caregiver. When someone is ill and in the hospital for awhile, the “day after day” is exhausting for their family. If you’re close to someone in that situation, make plans to get the loved one out of the hospital (or at least out of the room) for an hour or two. If possible, replace them with another friend or family member who can call if there’s a need. It’s sometimes hard to get the caregiver to leave … but it’s very often exactly what allows them to clear their mind, re-group, and return to the waiting.

Have you ever had to wait … and wait … while a loved one was in the hospital? Is there something someone did for you (or you wish they’d done) to make your wait easier?

Please leave a comment and tell us.
This is part of a 31-day series. To read previous posts, go HERE.


  1. I have been here trying to catch up on the posts I missed while the girls were home. Susan, if I haven’t said this already, I really, really love this blog series idea. I think you could turn it into a book (and sell it!) Seriously, you should consider that. I have gotten so many ideas. I personally intend to use this as a reference.

    As for the wait, we have done that. First, with my brother and then with my dad. I loved the ideas that you shared. The notebook was inspired. For us, what really helped at that time was when friends remembered that we had children on the home front. The things that they did (babysitting, food, just plain time) meant so much to me. It helped to have food in the freezer to whip out on the days that I was home and not at the hospital.

  2. This was a very sweet gesture on your part, Susan. There is nothing quite like the agony of being “chained to” a hospital waiting room. Not only are you anxious, nervous, and sad, but your mind just doesn’t work quite right. Not until an angel who is thinking ahead for us comes to the rescue do we have the chance to pop back into a kinder reality…if only for a few moments. I have gone to sit with people, too, and found that it’s not always about being there to talk. Sometimes it’s just being there to “be.” Taking food to the home and doing basic chores, of course, have been natural gestures in my family for years. The lady of the house should not be burdened with having to cook & clean for concerned relatives & friends who stop by. When my neighbor across the street lost her husband, I took a huge thing of toilet paper over along with food. I figured that was something they would need with all those relatives in town and staying there! At first it got a big laugh, but my neighbor was very appreciative because it was something she definitely needed! I was glad to be able to provide a necessity, but even more glad that I was able to ease the tension for just a moment when everyone laughed.

  3. This is such a perfect reminder, Susan. Such details are unknown to those who have never experienced those difficult moments. Have I ever had to wait? 🙂 It’s my middle name, but to answer your question more directed toward your post, with a father who battled Alzheimer’s since his mid 50’s until he went home to the Lord at 70, yes, I had to wait. I watched my mother waiting in ways that I cannot even begin to describe, patiently and meticulously caring for him with the most genuine love I have seen in all of my life. There were some hospital scenarios and everything you mention is something I’d encourage others to do. A meal and company feels like a warm blanket during what seems like a blizzard.
    Thanking God that Linda’s daughter recovered.
    Thank you again. I am enjoying your entries.

  4. Great post, Susan! When we were spending days at the hospital when my mother-in-law was in hospice, we really appreciated people stopping by just to sit with us for a little while. Your idea of going a few days into the hospital visit — and taking a notebook — was inspired!