The other day I interviewed Doug Koop, a spiritual health practitioner, and David Guretzki, a theology professor and seminary dean at Briercrest College & Seminary, about how to best help those who are suffering. It was our latest EFC webinar, based on the cover story of our Sep/Oct Faith Today, which Koop wrote.
We wanted to go deeper and really practical, and find out ways we can do better with those who are ill, or just going through the horrible times that we all do as inhabitants of a broken world. Both men have spouses who live with chronic conditions that require sometimes intense and special care. And they both think and teach and write on this subject.
I learned a lot. Here are a few highlights that I think we can all implement right away:
- Think beyond asking: “How are you feeling today?” all the time. People who are ill or hurting might like to talk about other things first. Think of topics other than their health.
- Involve people who are hurting or ill in normal activities as much as possible, and as appropriate. Running to a store that might interest them? Ask them to come along. Need help with a task at the church that fits their abilities? Invite them to join you.
- However tempted you are, don’t make that generic offer: “If you need anything, call me.” They probably won’t. Offer to do a specific task at a scheduled time. “Tomorrow I’m going to get groceries and I will pick you up a few things.” Or, “Here, I just made pies and here is one for you too. ” Or, “I’m going to send my kid over to mow your lawn tomorrow, is that okay?”
- Don’t say, “Wow, you look good today!” in a surprised voice. This one probably doesn’t need to be further explained. View the recorded webinar for more insights and ideas.
Karen Stiller is a senior editor of Faith Today. Check out our subscription deal.