Post # 1
My husbands’ brother just called. His 8 month old daughter (our niece) is in the hospital, and the doctors just told them she has leukemia. My inlaws just flew in to be with them, and we will be driving up to be with them tomorrow. This is my BILs and my SILs only child, and the only grandchild. Our family is absolutely heart broken.
Does anyone have any advice on how to best support my BIL and his family? I’ve never been in such a horrible situation before, and I don’t know what to do. My inlaws are well off, so there is no monetary concerns, but is there anything I can do or bring to help out? I know absolutely nothing will dull their pain, but my husband and I want to be as supportive as possible. If anyone has been in a situation like this before and has any suggestions I’d be very thankful.
Post # 2
CityBearBride: I am so, so sorry that you got this news.
They may be in a state that is sort of like mourning. They may be mourning their child’s health, and they may have a lot of fear for what is going to happen. There won’t be a whole lot to say unfortunately. It’s really hard to do this, but the best thing you can probably do is just be present and be with them through it. Bear the pain with them. This will probably help you all through the process, because it’s probably going to be a process, taking a long time.
Your husband, who I presume has known his family his whole life, may also have some insight on how to be there for his family members. It’s okay to talk with him about it before you go on your trip.
I am hoping that they will have the opportunity to work with a really good hospital. I highly recommend that they use a hospital that also has child life services or something similar to it. Child life services do things like hold and play with babies (also play with older children). It’s really important because spending so much time in the hospital a child’s development can fall behind other children. Now may or may not be the time to share that information with them. I would feel it out.
If they aren’t able to get things done at home, you can help out by cleaning or making them meals. If you’re only there for a short time, you could make and freeze a meal or a few meals that they can heat up for long days.
Prayers for your family <3
Post # 3
I’m so sorry. I’ll pray for that little girl! I don’t think there’s a lot you can do, unfortunately. You said people are traveling long distances to be with her at the hospital? Maybe you could put together a little “out of town” bag for them. In a state of grief and panic, I’m sure it’s easy to forget about everything else, including one’s own health. Fill it with little snacks, tylenol, things like that. Things you think they might need for being out of town. Oh! Maybe a small present for your neice? Something you think she would like that she can play with in the hospital.
Post # 4
I’m sorry! That is horrible news, especially when it’s happening to such a little baby. I would clean their house, make dinners and freeze them. Maybe get some gift cards for places that they get food to go, like Olive Garden, Applebees, etc.
Post # 5
im so sorry! Babies should never get sick!
Your SIL and BIL will probably be tired… Bringing them a coffee isn’t a bad idea, maybe a sandwich or muffin or so etching might help too!
You could alsl bring your niece a stuffed animal or something.. She is still little but it might bring her some comfort!
Prayers To your family!
Post # 6
I’m so sorry. 🙁
Is there anyway that you can get into their house and clean it for them? Cook meals and stack their freezer full? Anything that you can do to lighten the load of day-to-day chores so that they don’t have to think about them. Are they staying at the hospital with her? Could you offer to take thei clothes home, wash them and bring them back? Or go and fetch them more clothes from their house?
I would also bring a gift with you for your niece, perhaps a portable DVD player? I imagine she will get bored whilst in hospital.
Post # 7
Everdeen: I’m so with you on this one.
OP, when my dad was really sick, and eventually when he was dying, the best thing anyone ever did was take care of the daily chores…even folks who didn’t have access to the inside of my house were able to help by shoveling snow off our walk and driveway or preparing crockpot meals for us.
During extended hospital stays I would get exhausted from doing nothing and it was nice when some family members came in and stayed with my dad so I could go get something to eat or leave the hospital a little earlier in the evening to get an extra hour of sleep. I’m really sorry to hear about your niece, best wishes to her and you and your family.
Post # 8
things like snacks for the room, toiletries (esp if you know what brands they like), perhaps a journal for mom, comfy things (blanket, fuzzy socks) might help them be more comfortable in the hospital. Ask (or ask a friend or grandparents) if there is anything they need. They may not be able to come up with anything but they might! Also gift cards for area restaurants that deliver are like gold! I work in pediatric healthcare and so so often the families end up there in an emergency and don’t have the basics with them! Sending a prayer for healing and peace!
Post # 9
I am so sorry and sending positive thoughts to you and your family! I interned as a child life specialist in a children’s hospital and some things that the families really appreciated were just having someone volunteer to sit with the child while they go home and shower or go out to eat or just get some fresh air; they also really loved having books in the room and toys that you can wash easily to have in the room to interact with the child; and they also really loved having snacks, movies and activites for the families to do while the child might be sleeping etc. such as a deck of cards or something. Just being there and offering to help out in whatever way they need is the greatest thing you can do. I wish you all the best!
Post # 10
I work in pediatric oncology. Pediatric leukemia has a very, very high cure rate. However, the path to getting there is very long. Your family is likely in a state of shock and information-gathering. As they learn the treatment plan in the coming weeks/months, continue to ask what you can do to help them maintain some normalcy. To be honest, physically being with them right now will only do so much. The kind of help they will need will be in the form of sticking it out for the long haul.
Post # 11
When my daughter was in the PICU, the thing we were most grateful for was food. Hospital food was awful and only showed up cold and after we were starving, the cafeteria was super expensive and we refused to leave the hospital until we could all leave together, so food was really appreciated.
We weren’t allowed a lot of visitors since our daughter was immunocomprised, but when we did see people, I know we were not good hosts. We had a lot on our plates and everyone had the same questions over and over and we really just wanted to be with our kid and absorb all the info we could from the doctors. Just know that if your family is distant/weird/distracted, they have reason to be.
Post # 12
If there’s a way you can get in contact with a neighbor or friend (since it sounds like you live far away)-try to organize a meal/cleaning group where people can sign up to bring meals on certain days (so they don’t get 6 trays of lasagna on Tuesday) and do outdoor cleaning or indoor if the parents are okay with it.
Also, there’s sites like caringbridge.org where you can set up a website for them to update on progress, see words of encouragement, etc-in addition to being able to request assistance (like meals) in a way that’s visible to everyone that cares about them
Post # 13
Food. Make and freeze food in plates it can be reheated in. Write the re-heating instructions on the lid (If it’s for oven/microwave/etc). Offer to take care of their house, clean it, do laundry, care for any pets/etc/whatever. Offer to go grocery shopping or take stock of the supplies in their house (Dish washing tabs, laundry detergent, shampoo, whatever.) If they don’t want your help, don’t be offended and don’t be pushy, just offer every once in a while. If you’re going over to visit, bring fresh food, don’t take home leftovers.
Post # 14
Thanks everyone. We made it through the weekend at the hospital, and they are going back home today, and starting chemo next week. We brought lots of food to their house and to them in the hospital, so their fridge and freezer and pantry are fully stocked. Their house is all clean and the laundry is done.
Some things we did bring them that were helpful were alcohol and office supplies. We brought my SIL her favorite bottle of liquor (sambuca). She would have a glass or two in the evenings after the baby was asleep and that helped her relax. We also stopped at Staples and brought folders, pocket envelopes, notebooks, and pens so they could start organizing all of the information that the doctors gave them. Also, just having people around was very helpful for the parents. When they were alone together, they would both break down, but having people around made them stronger.
We live about a 4 hour drive away, and Darling Husband & I both work fulltime, but we’re planning to offer a visit every other weekend to do whatever we can. Luckily my SIL parents live only 15 minutes away and will be able to help out everyday. And my inlaws will be visiting very often as well. Please keep her in your thoughts & prayers!
Post # 15
So sad- little ones shouldn’t get sick. Sending good thoughts their way!