Bit of advice for hospital visits


Tomorrow night after school and teaching I’m going to visit my boyfriend’s grandmother (skipping out on Student Government, but she’s much more important than a school activity). She’s in the hospital, and has been diagnosed with two kinds of cancers (separate, not metasized, than goodness) and from what my bf tells me she’s not doing very well :frowning: She’s only been diagnosed with one cancer since last Tuesday, and the second one since Monday).

But I’m still in college, and don’t have much experience visiting people in hospitals. It’s always been for a birth of a sibling. My grandpa died before I could visit him, though, and I will not make the same mistake with his grandmother. I do hope she beats it, that she’s one of the exceptions to the rule for the cancers she has.

Now, my questions:

  1. What to do? I come in, give her the flowers in a vase…and then sit and talk with her awhile? About what? Or just trust in God and wing it? How long should I stay? I know he and his family have been visiting daily and staying for little over an hour each visit, but I’m not family (yet, anyway :wink: ) I really don’t know hospital etiquettes too well, beyond common sense of not overstaying a welcome.

  2. I want to draw a little picture if I have time, as I enjoy art (a note if I don’t have time). In the picture, or in the note, I would like to insert a Bible verse as an encouragement and faith and hope type of thing. The family’s Presbyterian, so nothing from the, I guess you could call it the Apocrypha, please…I’m sure there’s plenty of verses, and I’m sure I can find the ones I remember reading, but I’m rather short on time with finals coming up too soon, so help in this area would be appreciated…

  3. Likewise, I’d like to put a Bible verse or two or three in a note I’m going to write to my bf, when I give him some cookies. He’s feeling rather depressed right now, and I’m trying my best to be his inspiration while not disregarding his feelings. So, likewise, Bible verses of encouragement and hope would be wonderful, and likewise, he is Presbyterian.

Thank you ever so much!:slight_smile: (Some of you may remember this from the prayers forum–still seeking prayers that you can spare…)


1.) When you go to visit the grandmother, tell her who you are, that you’re sorry she’s sick, and make the conversation light. Don’t stay a long time the first visit.
2.) I’d hold off until the second or third visit on the scripture. But the picture is a lovely idea, if you have time.
3.) He’s your bf. You know best.


Dear Holly,

You sound like a lovely person. I am sure if you are “yourself”, your visit will be appreciated. Perhaps instead of the bible verses ( as the last poster suggested, at least right away) you could assure her of your prayers. I used to work in a nursing home, and I know the folks there especially enjoyed a visit from a younger person who was upbeat and friendly, yet gentle.
My only other suggestion is to be a good listener, if she wants to talk or relate an old story…a well placed, not too personal, question about her could get things started.

Anyway, I think you have a very lucky boyfriend.

Best wishes to you both,



Here’s some advice from an old RN (me :slight_smile: ): God bless you for being so considerate of your bf and his G’ma during this difficult time. It sounds as if you are going to visit on your own, without your bf there, am I right? If you two are going together, you might stay a bit longer than if you go alone, esp. if you don’t know G’ma very well. Just show up and “wing it.” She might not be in the mood for much company anyway if she is in a lot of pain or feeling nauseated or otherwise miserable, but she will be delighted that you came, even if you only stay for 5 minutes. There is no “right” length of time for a hospital visit as long as you are sensitive to when the patient might be uncomfortable or in need of some rest. Sometimes patients are feeling pretty rotten but don’t want to say anything because they don’t want to be rude. You can ask her directly, “Are you feeling up to having a visitor for a few minutes?” and take it from there. Or you can ask the nurse or patient care tech to ask her, if you’d be more comfortable with that. If the visit is going well and she seems to be comfortable and enjoying it, stay for a bit. If she isn’t feeling so well, just stay a few minutes and tell her that you don’t want her to get overly tired, but that you wanted to drop in and let her know that you are thinking of her. Just be yourself and let things flow naturally. As far as flowers, check at the nurses’ desk first or ask your bf. Some hospitals don’t allow flowers on cancer wards or in the ICUs because they can harbor a lot of germs. If they say “no” to flowers, you might bring her a get-well balloon instead. A card or picture you make yourself would be lovely, and a simple “praying for you” would be fine if you’re unsure about using a Bible verse.

Your bf is lucky to have such a thoughtful gf! God bless you both. :heaven:


This may be a little too early in the process, but when my dad was undergoing chemotherapy (this was about 25 years ago or so) the taste of the chemicals was horrible for him. He loved the little root beer candies. My step-mother bought them by the bags. You could find out if there’s something like that that she likes (again, this may be too soon; and maybe the treatments have come along enough that that’s not a side effect any longer)

I agree with maybe a balloon bouquet. If she’s on a floor with other cancer patients who are at varying stages of treatment, their immune systems can be very low and that can be really dangers with live flowers.

Since you’re baking your bf some cookies, you might find out gm’s favorite type of cookies and make her some as well.

I think your idea of a picture is lovely!!! If you don’t have time to draw one, you might find a really pretty card with the picture of a sunrise or ocean or mountain side (maybe something that gm really likes) and put that in a nice frame for her to see.

I think you’re wonderful for doing this!!! I, too, missed seeing my grandmother because I didn’t get to the hospital before her surgery – thought I’d go the weekend after the surgery but she never recovered from the surgery.

God bless you and your boyfriend’s family.


A BIG thank you to you all!!!

I was afraid my question was a bit too ramble-y to even be read, but I just wanted to do the right thing. And of course, I wanted to visit her!

I went on Thursday evening the first time…(skipped a school activity but it was totally worth it)–I ended up getting flowers (not knowing at the time about it being dangerous to immune systems). But it turned out I didn’t make an error, thank goodnesss. And it turned out to be a good thing…see, I brought a tulip and a hyacynth, the kind that you can plant in the ground when the weather gets warmer. I didn’t realize just how much she missed her garden, and so my flowers (that won’t die! I didn’t want to give her cut flowers that would die) I guess helped :slight_smile:

I did make time to draw a picture…just a pencil drawing of the sunrise and said “There’s always another sunrise!” instead of a Bible verse. I had set it to the side because I felt really silly giving it to her (Hey, Grandma, look what I drew in kindergarten today!). But my bf’s mom found it and showed it to her, and she apparently really liked it too :slight_smile:

And it turned out that the mom was with the grandmother, so I wasn’t alone, and then I was there for maybe 10 minutes before it so happened that the rest of the family came so I ended up coming at 6:30, and leaving at 9 with the rest of them, we just got talking and laughing a lot. So, I guess I didn’t need to worry about awkwardness or being too intrusive :slight_smile:

It was such a good time I went with my bf and his family to visit her again Saturday night, and she was doing better, thank goodness! Not perfect, you know, but definitely a bit better spirits. She said she hoped the next time I see her she will be at home. So if that is the case, hopefully I can find the time to make cookies for her and the whole family :slight_smile:

And thank you again for all your help! I really appreciate it :slight_smile:


I’m glad your visit went well and that G’ma is feeling better. Hopefully she will plant her tulip and hyacinth, and God willing, she will be here for many more springtimes when they come up. She will think of you every year when those flowers bloom. :slight_smile: Glad to be of some help. God bless! :slight_smile:


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