Have you ever had a family member or close friend in the hospital? Many of us have or are experiencing this need right now.
When my mom had to stay in the hospital for a week, I knew I wanted to make her feel comfortable there and I wanted my kids to be a part of that. Sometimes as a parent it is so difficult to know how much to include our children in such things, but it is up to us as parents as we know our children best. Some children are very small and cannot follow all hospital rules. Sometimes the older children and young people can handle it a little better. Often it has nothing to do with age and is all about their personality.
Hospitals are a source of fear and anxiety for many people, regardless of age. I personally feel uncomfortable with it, even as an adult. But I’ve tried to stay calm so that when my children have to visit someone or have to be taken to the hospital themselves, it doesn’t immediately trigger fear and anxiety. I want them to know that the hospital is a safe place that helps people.
My mother was in the hospital for a week for an operation. It was a draining process — physically, mentally, and emotionally — and I wasn’t even the one lying in the hospital bed.
I had an operation a few years ago and after that I couldn’t get out of bed without help. I was very grateful to everyone around me and put all my efforts into my own recovery. But as a mother, I also spent my time worrying about how my children were handling the situation. I wondered how they were doing and hoped they weren’t worried about what was going on. I’m a homeschool mom and I’m worried about homework and coming back. It’s difficult being a mother and having to rest in a bed after surgery. I know my whole family was weary, but we were also loved so much by our church, family and friends.
Having a loved one in the hospital is no fun and being in the hospital is not a vacation. I have so much respect for our healthcare providers, they are amazing people! We were able to experience first-hand how much work the nurses and doctors at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) do on a daily basis.
While my mother was in the hospital room for a week, I wanted to make her feel at home. I brought a diffuser and we filled it with water and essential oils each day. (The nurses all remarked how wonderful her room smelled.) I wanted her to be encouraged with the Scriptures every day, so I asked friends what their favorite uplifting verses were, and I wrote them on bright pieces of paper and stuck them on the doors and window in the room. You can also do this with meaningful quotes and/or lyrics. Family members sent flowers that lit up the room and gave my mom something beautiful to look at. We were visited by several hospital therapy dogs. At MUSC and many other hospitals, this is a program where people voluntarily bring their trained dogs into people’s hospital rooms to bring joy to the patients. If this is something your loved one would enjoy, let the nursing staff know. That way, when the pups show up, they can be directed to the right room.
My kids are 9 and 13 and I wanted them to see their grandmother while she is there and be able to visit her comfortably throughout the week. They accompanied me every day, bringing books to read, iPads to play with, and even art supplies to draw and color in. My daughter drew a picture of my mother’s dog to put up in the hospital room.
hardships are not called that for nothing, they are not easy! But like any trial in life, this has made us stronger as a family. My kids were not afraid to go to the hospital and even excitedly awaited the arrival of the therapy dogs and the nurses were so kind and wonderful. We all learned a lot from this experience. It was a lesson for all of us in trust, humility, compassion and asking for help when we need it most.
As parents, we may worry about how much our children can take when a loved one is hospitalized. My advice is to take it day by day. Your child will let you know when they are feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable in their own way. If your child has special needs, make sure they adjust slowly to your environment and have something with them to comfort them. This also applies to younger children.
Hospitals may never be a comfortable place for those we love, and it’s totally understandable. But when we know a loved one who needs to be there, we can put our focus and attention on them. We can try to make her room feel more like home to calm her nerves and help with recovery.