I often get asked what people can do for their friends who have babies or children in hospital, having had recent experience in that area myself.
The things that helped me would also apply to those who have a spouse or family member in hospital, or just anyone whose life has been turned upside down by a sudden event.
1. The number one thing, in my opinion, is to let your friend know you care, that you are thinking of them, and that you are free to chat if they want. Text and call your friend often. Just knowing they have people they can call on will be a great comfort. Offer to meet you friend at the hospital for a coffee or some time away from the situation. They might say no, but it might be exactly what they need.
2. In times of stress, practicalities go out the window. So you could offer to make dinners or lunches, to bring snacks, baking, or vouchers for local cafes.
3. If your friend has other children, you could offer to watch them.
4. If your friend can't drive or doesn't have transport, offer to drive them to the hospital.
5. Make a pamper pack for your friend- chocolate, a trashy magazine, vitamins, bubble bath- anything to spoil them.
6. If you text or call don't say 'let me know if I can help' because the very open endedness of that statement means your friend will probably say they are fine and they don't need anything. I found it most helpful when people offered concrete ways of helping.
7. Most importantly, just be there for your friend. Even if they don't want to see you, support them. Send them encouraging cards, texts, messages. Whatever you do, don't back away. Even if you don't know what to say and you don't want to crowd them, try your best. Don't expect that your friend will contact you first- you need to make the first move.
You will never know how much your friend treasures your friendship and support. It is invaluable in times of stress.
No no one would expect one person to do all of the above! Just take from this list what suits you, and remember that even if an offer is declined, your friend is thankful that you are thinking of them and supporting them.