In late June my family contracted COVID-19. It was far and away one of the least favorite experiences of our lives. My husband I were, unfortunately, super sick. Our small children (4 & 2), never showed any symptoms. The only good thing that came from this experience was the outstanding reminder that we are not alone. We have an amazing group of friends and family here that rallied alongside us as we recovered and tried to care for our children. To be frank, we were debilitated, and I don’t know what we would have done had family and friends from church not been so generous and loving.
It’s likely that you will have a friend that gets COVID-19. I don’t know if their symptoms will be mild, we know many who have only lost their sense of taste/smell, or more intense like ours. We had it all, fevers, headaches, body aches, and fire from Hades burning wildly inside our lungs. We were so tired we would fall asleep without realizing it. We were so weak that picking up our 2-year-old seemed impossible. But we made it. And we made it because of the support we had. I’ve comprised a list of the top 5 things people did and provided for us in hopes to equip you to love your neighbor well if they have the misfortune of encountering COVID-19.
5 Ways to Help a Friend with COVID-19
1. ALL the Paper Goods
Listen. I love the environment. We recycle. I try to limit my single-use plastic consumption. Mostly. Kind of. I’m not an activist or anything but I FOR SURE like nature. But when a friend who previously had Coronavirus dropped a TON of paper plates, paper bowls, plastic forks, plastic spoons, and plastic cups off on my doorstep I could have wept. Maybe I did. I was so sick I don’t remember a lot. But she wrote me a note and told me to use them and all I know is that they saved me. I didn’t have to add washing dishes to staying alive and caring for our children. An added bonus: my kids are in that sweet stage where they like to throw everything away to be “helpful,” so most of the time they just chucked their stuff in the trash when they were done and then I never had to worry about it again.
On that same note, I have to acknowledge any food that was delivered in a Tupperware that I didn’t need to give back or that I could toss. This made things SO easy. It also gave me great peace of mind knowing that if my Corona Germs got on a fork or a container I could toss it and not worry about sanitizing. I know at present paper goods can be hard to find, so even for your own peace of mind you may want to grab a pack or two to have on reserve if someone you know (or you!) gets sick.
2. ALL the Foods
When I first got sick and my husband wasn’t sick yet (his symptoms started 5 days after mine did), and friends wanted to start a meal train to provide food, I didn’t want to impose by saying yes. When my husband also got sick my friends weren’t having any of my pride and demanded to help. Enter the meal train that saved our lives. We had meals delivered every other day for 2.5 weeks. Friends were amazing. There are countless meal providing websites where people can sign up for different days and include what they are bringing so there isn’t a ton of overlap. My advice here is: push your friend to accept the help. Start one even if she says no. The present Corona-world has NO room for the pride of Pre-Corona. Things that could be easily stored, frozen, and reheated were the most useful.
If you are unable the provide a meal we also received a TON of food delivery service gift cards. This was amazing, and honestly something I had never considered doing for someone before this experience. When we tested positive we were quarantined for 2 full weeks. What you may not realize, though, is that the weakness and exhaustion lasts WELL beyond that time period. For a full month we had to take several naps a day and went to bed so early just to wake up exhausted the next day. Food delivery was a massive help because it took the need for us to get groceries or prep food and threw it right in the trash with our single use paper goods.
3. ALL the Kid Stuff
Our kids were amazing throughout this experience. Children are so resilient. I really think my kids would say the best time of their life was the season in which their parents were the sickest. I would also say that is partly due to the fact that they got to watch as much TV as their little hearts could ever desire. Mostly though, it is because so many people wanted to provide things for them to do while we were sick.
Our kids were showered with love through tons of gifts and activities. I would say the most useful would be activities that they could take out on their own, execute on their own, and, you guessed it, put away on their own.
Some examples would be:
Kinetic Sand Bins
My sweet friend Sofia put together sand bins in Tupperware containers. She included things to dig with and sea creatures to bury over and over. I put these on the kitchen table and when my kids would take a break from their true love, the T.V., they would come to the kitchen, grab their bins, and play for at least 30 minutes. It was also great because their names were on their bins and this freed us from any of the “That’s MINE!” fights that little people are so prone to engage in. I have already bought some extra bins and Kinetic sand to have ready for any kiddos who need to be entertained while their parents are down for the count.
Mess-Free Coloring Books/Water Wows
We were gifted so many of these fun and mess-free books. I put them all in a basket and if my babes came up to me needing a different mental stimulus, they would sit on the floor next to me on the couch and I would watch them color. These are a great, low-cost thing to provide for friends with little kids. At first I was a little overwhelmed with how many we got, but trust me, they were lifesavers!
Fort Building Kit
This is actually a two-part suggestion. My sweet friend Emily lives on the other side of Texas but was so generous in wanting to provide something for our family. She sent us some funds to put toward both food and something for the kids. We purchased a fort building kit from Amazon, and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. My kids loved building all sorts of things. My husband would often build a small fort in the morning and my kids would add onto it and take it apart all throughout the day. It made us feel like they were doing some sort of hands-on learning when we were unable to sit and build with them. All that to say, when in doubt, you could always send some funds to parents who know what will most interest/distract/entertain their children. For us it was the fort kit, for your friends it could be something else! Again, when you aren’t sure what you can provide, send funds and they will figure it out and be so thankful!
4. ALL the Miscellaneous Goodies
A package of toothbrushes
When you have a nasty virus spread through your spit…you definitely want a new toothbrush. We were able to change our toothbrushes weekly for over a month because we were gifted a big pack of new ones.
Throat Coat tea
This was the only thing I cared about for about 2 months. I drank 3 cups a day with local honey and some lemon. Cough drops were no match to the relief that this tea brought my dragon-cough-damaged throat.
This is tricky. These are hard to find. Especially in June/July it felt like no one could ever find them. But when these were gifted to us I breathed a sigh of relief. We were down to our last canister and we needed to sanitize everything twice a day. If you have an extra one, you may want to set it aside because it will be a huge blessing to someone with Covid who needs to wipe down every square inch of their house.
5. ALL the Encouragement
We are so loved. And people reminded us of that constantly in so many different ways. It was a box of macaroons and a card dropped on my doorstep late one evening by my friend Sofia. It was daily check-in texts and kind words from my friend Amy. It was the care package from my grandmother with comforts from my childhood. It was messages that I never responded to but never found an upset friend on the other side when I was finally able to sit and reply. It was love and generosity and sweetness of friends who just wanted to remind me that we weren’t alone. If you live far away, if you have no extra funds to provide a meal, if you don’t want to overwhelm your friend but still want to do SOMETHING, tell them that you are there, you’re thinking of them, you’re praying for them, and you love them. Corona-Season is isolating. We are all so far from each other. When you actually have Covid it’s even worse because you feel, quite literally, like a leper. I can honestly say, though, that even in that isolated, exhausting, and wild time, we never felt alone because people took time to continually remind us that we never really are.
I hope you don’t get COVID-19. I hope your friends and loved ones don’t get it either. But if we all continue to just keep getting it, I hope there is a flood of generosity that envelopes our daily lives and spurs us on to love each other more deeply. I hope you’re able to walk through hard things with people you love and come out the other side with a greater appreciation for every person you get have in your life. I know that’s what happened to us and I know it’s made us want to love others as we have been loved.