nobody's perfect | Stand by me

Written by Sister Karen Zielinski, OSF. Posted in December

Getting sick is a scary, life-changing event.

When we are first diagnosed with some ailment or chronic condition, we might be overwhelmed. We become anxious. It is scary: Will I be able to continue working, walk, or eat normal food? Will this illness cause pain? Is there a cure? Are there medicines that can help with the pain or even slow down the progression of the disease? Will I be able to afford the medicines and all the doctor appointments and medical procedures if I need them? All of this can be new to us, and we can experience a fear of all these unknowns.


Most of us can figure out what treatment to begin, which medicines to take, or which doctor or surgeon to help with our medical challenges. Different healthcare professionals can guide us through different procedures, recommend rehab centers, and offer suggestions about which drugs to take and even how to pay for them as we begin our medical journeys. But what can really help us get through these overwhelming health crises is someone to accompany us on our health journey.

Accompanying a patient can take many forms. Whether it is a group of friends from our church, our family members, some long-time golfing buddies, or friends from high school, there is something positively therapeutic about having a live human being with us when we are so vulnerable. Just knowing that a person will drive you to an appointment and wait for you until you are finished with your test, or that a family member will make certain your prescription is picked up, can lessen the fear of the medical unknown immensely.

When you are ill, you can experience so much anxiety over not only the illness itself, but also over the “stuff” of daily life: How will you pick up your medicines? Or schedule future follow-up appointments? Or get some groceries so you can eat? Knowing that people will be there for you and do these things reduces your anxiety a great deal. You can then concentrate on resting and getting better. Tons of health research shows that lessening anxiety can help speed up the healing process.

At a funeral recently, prayer petitions were read during the service. One said, “For the doctors and nurses who helped Dan while he was in the hospital.” Another read, “For all those people who do not have the support of others to accompany them during their health journey.”

During the holiday season, we often struggle with gift ideas. We stew over what gift we should give someone. A simple yet wonderful gift might be to stand by a person who is ill and accompany them on their journey to wellness. Why not make a gift of accompanying someone who is ill? Tell them you will drive them to appointments, or just call and show up with some soup, chicken casserole, or a cup of coffee. Think how relieved you would feel knowing that you had someone to stand by you.❦