My friends and family have been brilliant at supporting me throughout my illness. Of course a few people I thought were friends have disappeared, but I also know the ones that remain are true friends.
This post focuses on how they’ve helped me to feed myself and my family, but they have also offered a myriad of other support.
- My husband had to take responsibility for all the food shopping and cooking for a while. Now he generally cooks all the meals at the weekend.
- My two eldest kids now cook once a week each. They are now both competent at a range of meals. There were some tricky times when they first started and didn’t really know what to do. Sometimes I was well enough to sit in the kitchen and talk them through stuff, other times I would be unable to move from the sofa or my bed and there would be tears. Now they are both competent at a range of meals. This is a really positive outcome from my illness.
- Every time my mum or mother-in-law came to visit (which was at least every school holiday to help with childcare) they would not only do the cooking whilst they were at our house, but they would also bring extra meals and put them in the freezer. This became a bit more awkward after my daughter had to go gluten free, as my mum kept forgetting and bought meals like pasta bakes and sausage casseroles, but there were many times I was grateful for their efforts.
- My local friends set up a meal rota using www.takethemameal.com. Every Friday for over a year we had a meal delivered to our house. It is hard to describe how much this meant. Firstly it was one less meal to plan, buy food for and cook, so it lightened my load. Perhaps more importantly I knew that I had all these people supporting me and wanting the best for me. The emotional support I got from this was as great as the physical.
- Other friends who did not want to commit to a rota would turn up randomly with food such as home-made soup, casseroles, shepherds pies. When they were making meals for their families they would make double and bring some to us.
- Cakes: For the first few months we had a LOT of cakes. I think this was another way of people to say they were thinking of me and reaching out, even though I couldn’t spend time with them. The kids loved this, and it was a small compensation for the fact that their mum was ill. However, my daughter and I were being advised to follow a low sugar diet, so it’s probably good that these tailed off!
Everyone will have a different support network, but whatever you have make the most of it, and be grateful for it. Don’t be afraid to let people know how much you are struggling. If you put a brave face on things, people will assume everything is OK. The meal rota from my friends came from a conversation where I was asking for suggestions for easy meals. I explained why I couldn’t cook nearly everything, and how I was trying to adapt and I think it helped them to realise how much I was struggling.