18 Ways to Support Family or Friends on Hospice Care

We often feel helpless when someone we know is facing a serious illness and may not know how to act or what to say. These tips can help family and friends interact with someone who is facing a serious illness.

Don’t avoid the patient. Be the friend or loved one you have always been.

Call before you visit, but don’t be afraid to visit. They maybe lonely.

Touch the patient. A simple squeeze of their hand can tell them you still care.

family time

Bring a positive attitude; it’s contagious.

Call to tell the person you're bringing their favorite food and the time you're coming. Bring disposable containers so they won’t worry about returns.

Weep with the patient when they weep. Laugh when they laugh. Don’t be afraid to share these emotions.

You don't have to talk. Sitting silently together can be a comfort to others.

Take care of the patient’s children. They may need time to be alone with their loved one. The children may also need a short break.

Take the patient out for a pleasure trip, but know their limitations.

Ask the patient if they need transportation to the doctor or the store.

Call for a shopping list and make a “special” delivery to their home.

Celebrate holidays by decorating the patient’s room or home.

Help the patient’s family. Offer to come stay with the patient to give the family a break, or invite them out.

If appropriate, pray together.

Send a card that says, “I care.”

Bring small gifts of flowers or other natural treasures.

Water the plants

Offer to help with laundry, dirty dishes or light housekeeping.


Ask if the patient wants to talk about their illness. Ask, “Do you feel like talking about it?”