When a friend or family member suffers a catastrophic medical event, he is often at a loss for the best way to show concern and to offer support. An article in The Pheonix Society focuses on the needs and issues of burn victims. Here are some specifics dos and don’ts for hospital visits and the post-hospital recovery period:
- Don’t send or bring flowers. Although a well-intentioned first instinct ,if someone is hospitalized or recuperating at home, flowers present a potential risk. The bacteria carried by real flowers may threatened the patients weakened immune system.
- Do send a humorous book or a blank journal.
- Don’t stare or avoid eye contact. Burn patients usually have a greatly heightened awareness of their appearance.
- Do try to look at them squarely and naturally. Be aware of your body language and the messages your non-verbal cues may be sending.
- Don’t lie. The patient knows they have physical changes and a serious condition. It is unlikely you “know how they feel”. So don’t say it.
- Do listen and acknowledge their feelings. An appropriate response: “I can see that this is a really difficult time. I’ll be here for you.
- Don’t make vague offers to help.Do help. Be proactive with suggestions such as “I will set up child care for the week or walk your dog every morning”. Assume the offer will be accepted and ask for specific instructions.
- Don’t pressure the victim to make a decision about filing a lawsuit.
- Do research names of attorneys who specialize in the issues that gave rise to the victim’s injuries. Experienced attorneys can consult with the family and help preserve important evidence or gather witness statements.
A strong support system of family and friends is invaluable to a burn patient. Most burn patients say the things people DO are more important than the things people SAY.