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What to Say When People Want to Help

As a Crohn’s or UC patient, you may have had a stay (or 100) in the hospital. I, personally, was hospitalized at least once every year from 2011-2014. While each admission was for a different reason, and the treatments changed, the one thing that remained the same was how people reacted. Upon my admission to the hospital, those closest to me always reached out and said, “Let me know if you need anything.”

I never accepted the help

I used to assume that this was just a friendly gesture they would offer when they didn’t know what else to say. So, naturally, I would say “thanks” and never ask for anything as I didn’t want to inconvenience them or burden them with my “problems”.

A particularly bad IBD hospitalization

That was until one hospitalization where I was in really poor shape and needed help pretty badly. At the time, I was living alone, single, and had no family in the area. I was discharged one morning and was given my prescription for the new medications I had to take—think prednisone, antibiotics, etc. But the pharmacy was many blocks away from where I lived in the city. So, I called my friend who said “let me know if you need anything” and said, “Hey, I actually do need something…”

A great friend

He was more than happy to drop my prescription off at the pharmacy and wait for it before bringing it back to me. And, while he was there, I asked for some chicken broth and Jell-o. I offered to pay for everything and he simply replied, “No, I got it. It’s my pleasure.” And that, my friends, is a great friend.

People really do want to help

I realized at that moment that when people say “let me know if you need anything”, they truly mean it. While they may not know exactly what we are going through as a patient, that does not mean they have any less care or sympathy for us. Sometimes, they feel helpless and doing small chores like picking up a prescription, or bringing us something to do to stay occupied in the hospital means more to them than we can comprehend.

This goes beyond hospital stays, too. I used to love having a friend just come over to watch a movie and have a good laugh (because laughter cures all!). Or join me for my normal grocery run just to keep me company.

Knowing when to say no

Sometimes, accepting help also meant me saying “no”. If I were tired in the hospital and someone wanted to come to visit, or wanted to know if I needed anything, I would simply reply that I needed sleep. I was always honest with my friends and family about how I was feeling and what I needed, as anything else was a disservice to everyone.

They benefit from helping us, too

People want to help. They cannot take our pain away so offering their time, love, and care to us is the only way they feel they can make a difference. So the next time someone says, “let me know if you need anything” don’t be afraid to take them up on their offer. They benefit from it as much as you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    9 months ago

    Well said. I completely agree. When people offer help, I usually turn it down because I don’t want to be an inconvenience.

    However, there was a moment in my IBD journey that things got so severe that I literally had no choice but to scream for help. And it’s amazing how beautifully most everyone was supportive and helpful.

    Humans are kind creatures. We can’t forget that. ♡

    Thanks for the post.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

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