When some one you know finds out they are HIV+ or have AIDS, you may feel inadequate to help. But at this crisis moment of their lives, they need you more than ever. Here are some suggested guidelines on how to encourage your friend:
Stop-by for a visit. Make sure you ask if it is okay to come by. He or She may not feel up to a visit that day, but you can always visit on another occasion. Now is the time when your friendship can help keep loneliness and fear at a distance.
Make sure you do not avoid your friend. Be there because it instills hope. Be the friend, the loved one, you have always been, especially now when it is most important.
Express true love and compassion. A simple squeeze of the hand or a genuine hug can let him or her know you really care.
Be a true friend. Weep with your friend when he or she weeps. Laugh when they laugh. It is healthy to share these intimate experiences.
Don’t be afraid to share the joy of knowing Jesus with your friend, but don’t be overbearing. Don’t demand immediate spiritual maturity, and full understanding. Remember you didn’t get where you are in a day. On some occasions, the best witness is a simple prayer or kindness. Encourage them to know Jesus loves them.
Pray and know that God can heal, even the most difficult sickness. It’s okay, when praying with your friend, to give him hope by asking God to manifest His healing power. However, don’t make your friend feel guilty if healing doe not take place. Jesus is the healer, and he died to make us whole/healthy.
Call and say you would like to bring a favorite meal. Ask what time and day would best for your visit, and plan on spending the time to share the meal.
Invite your friend or family member to go for a walk or outing, but be sensitive to any limitations.
Offer to help answer any correspondence or help pay bills.
Ask about their medications- are they taking them daily, without missing any dosages? Do they need healthier food to take the pills with?
Ask about their support system. Who helps them when they are most in need? Do they have a Pastor, family member, neighbor who can help them quickly if something is urgent? Listen for ways you can assist in the future.
Last but not least, help them start a support group. – loving attentive friends and colleagues who will listen and help make recommendations on where they can get help. Many minds are need to solve the everyday problems of one living with HIV/AIDS. You are making a big difference to care and ask questions.
Call your friend and find out if anything is needed from the store. Ask for a shopping list and make a delivery to you friend’s house.
Celebrate holidays, if possible, with your friend by decorating their home or hospital room. Bring flowers or special treasures, or include your friend in your holiday festivities at home.
Stay in contact, when possible, with your friend’s family. Family members are affected by HIV and AIDS too. They may have unique needs along the way as well.
Go Shopping and bless your friend. Buy them a special treat. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something thoughtful.
Be creative. Bring books, periodicals, taped music, a video, some home baked-cookies or delicacies to share.
Don’t give-up! You may feel inadequate or apprehensive, and it’s very natural to feel like you don’t have all the answers. Just remember you don’t. Ask God for wisdom.
It’s okay to ask ,”How are you feeling today?” But remember be sensitive to whether or not your friend wants to discuss it.
Like everyone else, a person with AIDS can have good and bad days. On the bad days treat your friend with extra care and compassion.
Can you drive? Take your friend to the store, or to the bank, the physician, church, shopping, or a movie. How about a ride to the beach or a park?
Share outside information. Keep your friend up-to-date on mutual friends and other common interests. Your friend may be tired of talking about symptoms, doctors, and treatment.
Discuss current events. What’s new in the news? Help keep your friend from feeling the world is passing them by.
Volunteer to do household chores-perhaps do the laundry, wash dishes, water plants, feed and walk the pets. This may be appreciated more than you realize. However, don’t do what you friend can do and wants to do for himself.
Be careful not to lecture anger at your friend if he or she seems to be handling the illness in a way that you think is inappropriate. You may not understand what the feelings are and why certain choices are being made.
Do not confuse acceptance of the illness with defeat. Sometimes acceptance may free your friend to accept God’s better plan for his or her life.
Don’t allow you friend to become isolated. Let him or her know about support and prayer groups, Bible studies, and other practical services offered by church, ministry, and He Intends Victory.
Talk about the future with your friend…tomorrow, next week, and next year. It is good to look toward the future without denying the reality of today.
Share with your pastor and Christian friends your own feelings of grief, helplessness, and inadequacy. Getting the emotional and spiritual support you need will help you to “be there” for the person who has AIDS.
Confidentiality is of the utmost importance! Don’t share anything with anyone you are not at liberty to share with.
And remember to pray again-for your friend or family member, for their family members, and that God would use you as a messenger of love and salvation through Jesus Christ!
Read to you friend. Sometimes, reading becomes difficult. We suggest the Bible, and of course, our book, He Intends Victory.
Be prepared for your friends to get angry with you for “no reason,” although it seems it seems you have been there and done everything you could. Remember, anger and frustration is often taken out on people most loved because it is safe and will be understood.