9 Practical Ways to Help Someone After Surgery

Thank you to everyone who prayed for my surgery last Friday! It went well and I’m settled back in at home.

Going through the recovery process has brought back a lot of memories for me, since I’ve had my fair share of medical issues and surgeries in the last 5 years. I don’t say that to have a pity party, but to share how I’ve been blessed by the generosity and thoughtfulness of others.

Sometimes I think we’re unsure how to help someone who’s going through medical difficulties or surgeries. Of course we know to pray, but I’m focusing on hands-on types of things today.

I hope this list of ideas will nudge you to reach out to someone in your life who may need a hand. And who knows…God may use you to draw that person closer to Him.

Practical Ways to Help:

1) Deliver a meal or collaborate with friends to set up a meal schedule.
2) If you can’t cook (or even if you can!), give a gift card for carryout or pizza delivery.
3) If the person has young children, offer to watch them for a day or two. Or if you can’t commit to a full day, even a few hours will help!
4) If they have older children, offer to drive them to their practices and events.
5) Offer to help with housecleaning or laundry. In between laundry loads, you can share a cup of coffee or tea.
6) Hand-deliver flowers.
7) Write an encouraging note.
8) If you’re going to get groceries, call and ask if you can pick up something for your friend.
9) Bring them books to read. (After a major surgery, my mother-in-law brought me a bag full of inspirational novels. I spent my recovery reading them, and at the end, I heard the distinct call to start writing books. You never know how something simple could change the course of someone’s life!)

I know I’ve barely skimmed the surface with my list. What else can you add? How have others blessed you when you were facing medical issues or recovering from a surgery?


Practical Ways to Help Someone After Surgery
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35 thoughts on “Practical Ways to Help Someone After Surgery

  • May 16, 2012 at 6:22 am

    I’m so glad you’re recovering well! Hurry back to full health! I haven’t had major medical issues or surgeries, but I will say as a single person…there have been a couple of times I’ve been sick when I wanted or needed to get out of the house for a bit and didn’t have the strength to drive (safely). I’ve had friends offer to run me places and that was such a blessing. I hate asking for help and typically REFUSE to ask for help, so the offer was as much a gift as the actual outing!

    • May 16, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      Good point, Bekah! It can be hard to feel trapped at home, so those little breaks when someone drives us somewhere can be lifesavers.

  • May 16, 2012 at 8:18 am

    So glad to hear you’re on the upswing, Sarah! Thanks so much for this list. I often find myself surrounded by those in a similar situation, and now I know just how to help. Thanks! 🙂

    • May 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Heidi! Hopefully soon I’ll get to be the helper again instead of the helpee. 🙂

  • May 16, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Very glad you’re through this episode of surgery/illness. I don’t know your difficulties, but suffice it to say, that anytime someone we know, love, or care about is “down,” we as Christian brethren should be helpers and show our care. That doesn’t mean to go, sit, visit, talk, tire them out. It means do what they need and want you to do for them.

    In addition to the “carry them food” idea, which is tremendous, when coordinating a series of meals for the sick, or when doing it individually for your friend, if there is anyway you can determine ahead of time their likes and dislikes, their special diet needs, the personal preferences, etc. it really helps – AND – it avoids having them simply thrown out the gift of food lovingly prepared because they simply can’t use it.

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      What a great point, Vera. My mom’s group at church does an awesome job of checking about preferences, etc. Especially when little ones are involved, the picky eater syndrome can come into play. 🙂

      • May 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm

        I’m going to share a kind-of funny story…. My husband had by-pass surgery (I know – not funny). All the kids came in (5 grown w/spouses, etc) and the ladies in our church (bless their hearts) put together a meal. Well, we really weren’t at the house much, but they put the meal together. Amongst all the food, there was a huge dish of dried limas. Now these were larger around than a quarter (near half-dollar size) and at least 1/4″ thick. By the time some of us got home, they had congealed in the pan. Anyway, I knew my sensitive stomach wouldn’t be able to hand this “delicacy” but out of consideration for the dear lady that prepared them, I kept my peace (and tongue). Anyway, a son-in-law spoke up and said, “Where I come from, we call those “gut-busters”!” It broke the tension and literally cracked us all up.

        Now while we appreciated every effort made and did not belittle any dear lady’s contribution, we……. well, we……. Hmmmmm… I think you get the idea.

  • May 16, 2012 at 9:15 am

    I’m so glad your recovery is going well. One of those is headed your way soon! I always like to try to get creative when I’m delivering things like this…brain teasers, face masks, yummy smelling lotions…Wish we lived closer!
    ~ Wendy

  • May 16, 2012 at 9:31 am

    This is good stuff! Glad you are recovering well. My hubby has surgery in July. He will be one kidney lighter.

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm

      Wow, Katie, that will be a big time for you guys. What an awesome sacrifice, though…I assume he’s donating it?

  • May 16, 2012 at 9:35 am

    So glad you are doing well! Have been thinking of and praying for you. These are wonderful tips!

    It’s good to remember those who are helping the ones who had surgery as well. (I am main caregiver for my mother in law, who goes in for major surgery this Friday, and she will most likely require chemo in the coming months.) To have an offer to help (feed her cat, drive her to a doctor’s appt., etc.) is a big help to the caregiver, who juggles their normal duties plus the additional care for the ailing loved one. This is not to meant as a complaint, but rather to just make people aware that the backup people are grateful for the additional support too.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      That’s an EXCELLENT point, Karen. Caregivers are often stretched beyond their limits. Thanks for the reminder.

  • May 16, 2012 at 9:36 am

    These are really great tips. I’m happy your recovery is going well!! Your tips are so practical.

  • May 16, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Great tips! Glad you’re feeling better.

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks, Loree. I’m looking forward to getting back to 100%. 🙂

  • May 16, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I’m soooo glad to hear you’re doing okay! Your list is great. I would also add to pray for them often. Recovery is a day-by-day thing, and complications or even just a slightly depressed feeling can occur. It’s good to keep praying!

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      So true, Jill. I discovered that with my sister’s heart transplant. A lot of people assumed once she was home that everything was fine. Not saying it’s their fault…They just didn’t know. But in many ways, the challenges were just beginning.

      • May 16, 2012 at 2:03 pm

        That’s a bit like my family – May 21 this year will be 2 years since my brother’s bone marrow transplant. Just because we’ve been home for a year and a half doesn’t mean that he’s completely recovered or that we don’t have anything to worry about. We have to constantly be on our guard around sick people and germs because he has a toddler’s immune system right now – and he’s almost 21!
        Like the caregiver stuff above, it can be very exhausting – especially when people don’t realize the sickness/illness/issue/recovery isn’t “over” yet.

        Sorry, I can go off on a rant about this sometimes! 🙂

        • May 16, 2012 at 5:35 pm

          Amanda, I know all about the “germophobia” that comes after transplants. Especially when we’re not the ones who are recovering, I think we carry extra worry and guilt over whether we might be the cause of our loved one getting ill.

  • May 16, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Glad you’re feeling better! I’ve not had surgery, but when I feel awful from a migraine or something and a friend offers to bring a meal by so my husband doesn’t starve, that means the world. I don’t always take them up on it, but it’s so awesome to know they care that much.

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:07 pm

      That’s so true, Lindsay, and a good reminder for when we offer help. Just because someone might say no doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate us asking.

  • May 16, 2012 at 11:12 am

    I think that list is right on. I hope I’ll remember to practice that stuff if I know anyone who needs something. Thank you! I hope your recovery is quick and smooth. 🙂

    • May 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Thanks, Jessica! And the nice thing is, there are plenty of helpful things that range from time-consuming to quick and easy. 🙂

  • May 16, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Great list, especially the one about bringing the person books. I’d also say good movies. I hope your recovery goes well!

  • May 16, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Sarah, sending you hugs from afar and cyber chicken noodle soup! 🙂
    Your ideas were all so wonderful. Having been a mom/caregiver to our son who faced years of illness and life-changing surgeries, I can give a hearty “amen” to moments of kindness. Though those years are behind us now, I well remember many of those selfless acts from so long ago. I’m praying for you!

    • May 16, 2012 at 5:36 pm

      Thank you, Cynthia! I think sometimes one of the purposes in us going through times like these is so we have greater sensitivity to others facing hard times.

  • May 17, 2012 at 1:52 am

    these all sound like good things to do for anyone, regardless of recent surgery or not! we are in a bad way to find someone out here to help us with our daughter. our parents live so far away….it’s super hard not having that kind of support.

    i’ve been thinking about you a lot…and i’m sorry not to have commented about your surgery until now. i hope your recovery time is swift and painless. i did get your emails and tweets….just life has kicked into overtime for me. i lost all my interns at work, which means i’m completely swamped almost every hour of the working day and i come home exhausted. just drained. i might need you to send me the latest chapter i was working on….sorry!

    love you friend!

  • May 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Sarah! So glad you are on the mend and your post brings up some fabulous ideas of what to do for others during their time(s) of need. Just being present and willing to help no matter how big (or small), is such a blessing for the recipient. In fact, starting a prayer chain with friends and family is one of the best ways you can help someone whose under the weather, recovering, or suffering.

    Take care and continued prayers for healing!! 🙂

  • May 17, 2012 at 5:18 pm


    So glad that you are on the mend…i’m thinking about you…and praying for you, too 😉

  • May 17, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    We have a Costco nearby. For those who have neither the time nor the inclination to cook, one of their rotisserie chickens makes a great meal to bring to a friend.

    Praying for your quick recovery, Sarah.

    Susan 🙂

  • May 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Glad to hear your surgery went well, friend. Praying for you!

  • November 18, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    I am recovering from Total Knee Replacement and my daughter visited me at the hospital and rehab center a couple of times, but once I got home has only called me once to see how I’m doing and sent me a couple of messages on Facebook. I have been home for 4 weeks now. She dropped by the other day and stayed not even 5 minutes! I am very hurt by this; just because I’m home doesn’t mean I disappeared from the face of the earth! Knee replacement is a very difficult surgery and recovery takes a long time. My husband was home for 3 weeks from work to help me; he went back to work and I’m alone for most of the day except for my trip to rehab. as an outpatient. She works but I am right on her way home. I am glad your surgery went well and those of you who have caring children who are willing to help or just let you know they are thinking about you are indeed fortunate. I am beyond disappointed in my daughter’s behavior and have no kind words to say at this time. I probably won’t get over this in a hurry.

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