This might be an unexpected blog posting for this time of year, but have you thought about sending notes to folks who are ill? Your thoughtful comments would mean so much to someone who is hurting.
Here are some tips on how to approach this:
You do not need a fancy, pre-printed card. Food stores (like Safeway, in my neck of the woods) carry blank greeting cards that are available by the packet. I buy some pretty cards in bulk and then send them out as the need arises (it always arises).
Do not tell the other person “I know exactly how you feel.” Obviously, you don’t, but you can share your own personal experience that is similar to what they are facing. Do not make this all about yourself, however.
Mention what the person is experiencing (“I heard that you recently lost your (mother, sister, husband, whoever) and wanted you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers”). You can then tell the individual about your own connection to their grief (“I remember when John walked out, and understand what that feels like….”). Offer assistance, if you wish (“I would love to come over and cook dinner for you on Tuesday night….”) or just let the friend know that you are available (“I am here if you would like to talk about this or if you just want to have a cup of coffee sometime”). Close the note with assurances (“This is a difficult time but …”). Do not tell the person that he or she will laugh about it some day. There might not be any laughing about this for years, especially if John wiped her out financially when he left to go live with that hussy.
This is not something that takes a lot of time, but it can really be an encouragement to the other person. It can also be a blessing in your own life, as you reach out to someone who is going through difficult circumstances right now.