It’s often easy to find friends to hang out with when everything is going well. People love planning girls’ trips and double dates together. However, the true test of friendship can be when things are not the best. Whether someone is down with the flu, or has just been diagnosed with cancer, that’s when you can tell who’s there for you.

It’s very simple to text, “Get well soon” and then get on with life. But true friends will drop what they are doing and come up with meaningful ways to help. “Thoughts and prayers” are not always enough. Actions can be the real litmus test.

1. Send a Care Package

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If you have a friend or family member who is ill in another state — or country — it is not always practical to physically be there. You can still tell them you truly care by sending a useful care package. Depending on the situation, put together a cute gift box or basket with items that can help. If your brother broke his leg while skiing, send him some activities to do while he is stuck in a cast. Word search and sudoku puzzles and books can help him pass time before he can get back on his feet.

Or you could also send get well soon gifts with some wholesome comfort food to a loved one’s doorstep. There are options online that can help you with delivering good ol’ chicken soup with just a few clicks. You could also send a gift card for some local eateries so they can choose what they would like to eat. However, sometimes an ill person just doesn’t have the energy to do even the simplest tasks, so make it as easy as possible for them.

2. Help With Simple Tasks

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Laundry and taking out the trash may seem like mundane chores. However, that may not be the case for someone who is sick. It’s not always feasible to hire out help, so consider helping them out. They might enjoy the company and feel relieved that they don’t have to tackle some chores. Encourage your teens to volunteer some time too. They can learn that not everything has to be done for money.

If you live far away, you can also gift them a deep house cleaning service. Just knowing everything is spic and span can help make someone feel better. You could also have someone help with weeds in the garden or shovel the snow depending on the season. Good karma can do wonders when you’re ever in a pickle yourself.

3. Be Their Spokesperson

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Put yourself in their shoes. If a close friend is undergoing treatment for a chronic illness, you can step in to communicate their wishes to everyone. If they would like company — or privacy — let others know through a social media post or mass email. Of course, never divulge any personal information without their permission.

Help set up a meal train, so all the people reaching out know how to help. You can specify any food allergies or dietary restrictions too. People can pick dates so there are not seven casseroles one day and then nothing for the rest of the week.

You can also accompany your friend to doctors’ appointments to help process the diagnosis and treatment plan. People with kidney failure or cancer may be in and out of hospital, and it can get overwhelming to keep up with all the meds, tests, and follow ups. You can provide brief updates to loved ones, so your friend doesn’t feel overwhelmed with dozens of unread texts.

4. Provide a Distraction

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To get their mind off the illness, come up with things that do not involve blood draws and waiting rooms. Bring a few board games or suggest some uplifting movies to watch. You don’t have to finish the movie or the game in one sitting either. It is just a means of providing them with something else to do.

Fresh air can be the best medicine in many cases as well. Even if it must be in the car or a wheelchair, help them get out of the house or hospital. Natural sunlight can do wonders to boost someone’s mood and morale. Plus, they might get to see kids in the park or teens shooting hoops, which can be a pleasant change from the four walls of a sterile hospital room.

5. Post-Recovery Care

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Even after your friend has healed, try to continue offering support. It may be in a modified way, but they may still appreciate the help. Doctors may give a new mom the green light to do everything six weeks after giving birth via C-section.

However, she may still like some help as she heals her body and takes care of a tiny human. Just watching the baby while mom and dad go on a date night can be a huge help. Carrying the laundry up the stairs or driving her to appointments can be a huge relief after major abdominal surgery.

Don’t underestimate how much difference even small acts of kindness can make. At the same time, take care of yourself too. Often, caregivers put themselves last. Remember you need to fill your own cup to be able to pour for others.

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I love writing, traveling, and creating original content, which is why I love the fashion world. It's not about trends or following the "what's hot" list, it's about creating content that people are actually excited to read.