Do's and Don'ts of Visiting the Sick
The original version of today's article was first published on January 26, 2017.
It's October, and we're on the cusp of the "season of giving." If you're a go-getter, you may already be thinking about some of the ways you'll give back during the holidays.
One very important way to reach out (anytime of year) is to visit the sick and afflicted. Those who are homebound or bedridden may love to see a friendly face. Some ailments can't be seen, though, and you may find God prompting you to visit someone who is spiritually struggling, grieving, or lonely.
If the idea of visiting someone makes you a little uneasy or unsure, then here is some advice for you to consider.
Why Do It?
- It's an ancient and common practice (2 Kings 8:29; 2 Kings 13:14; Job 2:11)
- It shows love and charity (Psalm 35:13-14)
- It's our Christian duty (Hebrews 13:1-3; 16)
- It's humbling (Mormon 8:36-39; Ezekiel 34:1-4)
Who Should Do It?
Even though in Luke 9:1-2, God is giving a mandate to His apostles, certain work is available for all disciples of Christ, so everyone who considers themselves a servant of God can visit the afflicted.
What to Do on a Visit
- Call first.
- Inform yourself about the person's affliction.
- Prepare yourself mentally for what you might see and hear.
- Choose a good topic of conversation that interests the person. Ask questions, and really listen.
- Keep any disclosed information confidential.
- Bring something thoughtful (flowers, book, game).
- Help in any way you can (fluff a pillow, get water).
- Sit close and maintain soft (genuine, two-way) eye contact.
- Let the person cry and express emotion. Don't try to "fix" it.
- Offer to look after the person's house, pets, etc.
- End the visit well without making an excuse to leave.
- Support the person's primary caregiver.
What Not to Do on a Visit
- Talk about your own illnesses or problems.
- Bring food if you're not sure the person can eat it.
- Show distaste for the hospital, facility, machines, tubes, etc.
- Reproach or criticize the person's state, as this can just depress the person further — remember the friends of Job?
- Repeatedly look at the clock or your phone.
- Promise more than you can deliver.
What Do You Get from Visiting?
- Spiritual and material prosperity (Jacob 2:17-19)
- Entrance into the kingdom of God (Matthew 25:34-40)
Can you add something to this list? Post a comment with your best advice for visiting.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.