Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend – A Review

Author: Lisa J. Copen*
Publisher: Rest Ministries Publishers
Copyright: 2005

We all know that “Call me if you need anything” is a giant cop-out when you’re talking to a friend who is laid up or chronically ill. But what should a person say or do instead?

Consider this little paperback (it's about 4 inches wide and costs only $4.50) the best investment in friendly support that you could make. Every page of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend, by Lisa J. Copen, is packed with creative little ideas – from the fun to the practical – that will really help and cheer your friend. And, besides suggesting things that you can helpfully do and say, this book tells you what not to do and say. It conveys a sense of what it’s like to have a chronic illness.

Following are a few examples of the many ideas we liked in the book. (When we compared our favorites, we discovered that kind deeds are like jokes – different ones will appeal to different people. So it’s great to have 505 to choose from.)

#28 – Purchase matching coffee mugs for you and your friend, and then commit to pray for one another each morning while using them.
#390 – Clean out your friend’s refrigerator and swear that yours has looked much worse. (Or # 18 – Mop the floors.)
#309 – Have your child pick out an item that will make your friend smile. For example, Veggie Tales videos of “Silly Songs” leave adults roaring with laughter.
#355 – Leave a May Day basket on your friend’s doorstep.
#21 – Ask, “Do you have an errand I can run for you before coming over?”
#348 – Help her color or highlight her hair.
#20 – Buy a brightly colored umbrella as a gift.
#289 – Do a crossword puzzle together.
#464 – Make a soup basket with mugs, bowls, soups, crackers, and a note that says, "Your strength just bowls me over!"
#377 – Books on tape make great gifts. [Public libraries offer books on tape or CD.]
#393 – Give your friend rubber stamps and ink. They are fun to use on cards.
#195 – Watch for local events that may bring a bit of joy to your friend’s life, and rent a wheel chair if necessary. For example, would your friend love a cat show, a harvest festival, or a local parade? Do something out of the ordinary.
#392 – Paint her toenails and add decals for fun.

Readers say their support groups are buying this book for members, and that they are giving them as personal gifts to caregivers and friends. One reader wrote that she gives a copy to friends who are laid up so they can make suggestions to those who say “if there’s anything I can do…”

To order this book at please click here.

* Lisa J. Copen is founder and director of Rest Ministries, Inc., an international volunteer-run nonprofit dedicated to supporting people with chronic illness or pain – practically, personally, and spiritually. See for information on other publications and resources for the chronically ill and their advocates.

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