How do I Give Encouragement to a Friend Waiting for a Liver Transplant?

man & woman holding hands image by Pavel Losevsky from

It is difficult for a person suffering through a debilitating disease to wait for a transplant that may save her life. She not only has to hold out hope for a successful surgery, but also has to acknowledge that death is a possibility. It is also difficult to know how to deal with your own feelings as an ill person's friend. However, it will be easier for both you and your friend to get through this difficult time if you learn how to best be there for her.

Be there through it all without abandoning your friend when the situation gets tough. Provide your friend with emotional and spiritual support by offering to start a support team or prayer group. Doctors and caretakers don't always provide enough comfort in these areas. However, try to avoid saying things like, "I understand." Unless you've been in the same position, you most likely don't understand what your friend is going through. When you don't know what to say, it's okay to simply say, "I don't know what to say."

Listen to what they have to say. Your friend may want to talk about her illness or the transplant procedure. Simply follow your friend's lead and allow her to talk at her own pace. However, remember to be compassionate and don't criticize.

Learn about your friend's condition. Knowing more about what your friend is experiencing will help you be there for her. Look up symptoms and side effects of the condition and find out what she can expect after the surgery.

Take time to visit. If you live close by, check on your friend once in awhile and offer to play a board game, watch a rented movie or anything else she wants to do. Being there for your friend will show her you care.

Offer to run errands. Your friend may need help buying groceries, picking up the dry cleaning or other every day activities that are made more difficult because of her condition.

Buy an occasional gift or treat. The present doesn't have be lavish or expensive, but a small dessert or gift can help brighten her day and lift her spirits. It will also let her know you are thinking of her.

Know when to back off. Sometimes those who are ill may need some space to process and be alone. Learn to pick up on those cues and leave your friend alone when she needs personal time. Don't be offended if she asks to be left alone for a while.