3 Lessons on Loving a Sick Person from a Four-Year Old

Last weekend I was exhausted. After a 40-hr work week, it was hard to find my mojo. Lying in bed Saturday afternoon was another test of faith. As a 28-year old when my friends and parents are out having fun and I’m home alone, it’s hard to remember all that God has given me. But Sunday my empathetic 4-yr old nephew reminded me of my blessings. I’ll share our hilarious exchange and 3 lessons Mikko taught me about loving a sick person. Mikko has made it impossible for me to stay bitter despite trying moments that are part and parcel of every chronically ill person’s existence.

Hectic Sunday

As sick people, we have to say “no” sometimes. For instance, rather than attend three events on one day, we might attend one or two. But last Sunday, too many milestones collided on one day–it was “the perfect storm.” Last Sunday was Pastor’s Appreciation Day so I couldn’t skip church. After church, I had to attend my cousin’s church launch–he is the pastor of a new church. Then, I had to attend my uncle’s 69th birthday. My pastor, cousin, and uncle have all been critical in fighting my Myasthenia Gravis. Here is the conversation between me and Mikko at my uncle’s house where he was playing on the stairs:

Me: I have to go upstairs now to the use bathroom.

Mikko: Do you have to pee?

Me: Yes.

Mikko: (in a very serious tone) How can you pee with your cane?

Me: I’ll try my best.

Mikko: (putting his hand on my arm reassuringly) It’s okay for you to pee while sitting down.

Me: Thank you.

Then Mikko went ahead of me put down the toilet lid. (It is hard for me to bend down–even little actions like these are cumbersome.) Then he stood there watching me like my guardian angel. I told him, “I have to do this part alone.” He responded, “Oh okay,” and left me alone.

Watching Over Me Since He Was Two

Mikko has been my guardian angel ever since he was two and saw me taking five medications in a span of 90 seconds. This year I bought him a doctor’s uniform when I was in the hospital for one of my Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome tests. I told him I liked the way he looked in his “costume” to which he responded, “I was a real doctor. A real doctor-dentist.”

Most Adorable Dr. Ever

3 Lessons from Mikko on Loving a Sick Person

Sometimes adults don’t know what to say when a friend or relative gets sick so they avoid discussing the illness altogether. Or in some cases they leave that friend. For good. Here are 3 vital lessons on loving a sick person:

1.  Listen–just be there. Mikko doesn’t judge me or preach to me. He doesn’t ask what I was doing before I got sick (“Were you drinking or smoking? Did you exercise?”). When I’m in pain, even when I don’t verbalize it, he puts his hand on my arm and stays by my side.

2. Laugh. Mikko tries to cheer me up. It means a lot when friends tell me jokes even if those jokes fall flat. Once Mikko tried to tell a knock-knock joke. He said, “Knock. Knock.” I said, “Who’s there?” Mikko said, “Banana.” I asked, “Banana who?” He said, “Banana. I just told you, Banana.”

3. Look for concrete ways to help. Sometimes little things go a long way like pushing open heavy doors or carrying your friend’s purse. In Mikko’s case, he put down the lid–a welcome gesture to any woman–sick or healthy!

Sometimes children “get it” more than adults. They know that helping a sick person is about staying by your loved one.

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno


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Hi there! I am a patient advocate, writer, and public speaker most well known for my TEDx Talk, “How to Get Stuff Done When You Are Depressed.” As someone who is juggling 5 illnesses: bipolar 2, myasthenia gravis, endometriosis, psoriasis, and asthma, I’m passionate about helping people who navigate life with both chronic physical & emotional pain. If you’re interested in hiring me to speak at your event, check out the CONTACT tab.

2 thoughts on “3 Lessons on Loving a Sick Person from a Four-Year Old

  • November 4, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I have a niece and nephew that are also my emotional buoys. Of course, my inability to do as much with them as I’d like sometimes saddens me. And sometimes they are very direct. After a couple years of being seriously ill, my nephew asked me, “How long are you going to be sick? I mean, are you ever going to get better?” I felt sad telling a 6 year old that no, I might have better days, but I would never get all better. Sometimes people are sick forever. But like you, it was much better to talk about it than not. And most adults are afraid too. Had he had an additional decade or two on him I might have thanked him for asking and talked to him about how that was something I myself was struggling to accept (with a teary hug to boot). Leave it to a kid to address what adults cannot or will not. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him or his sister and not smiled.

    I love this post and am looking forward to passing it on. Thanks for sharing!

  • March 25, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience and helping others learn how to best help others. I won’t forget the 3 “L’s” I learned from Mikko: Listen, Laugh and Look 🙂


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