When I first started hospital visitations, I often found my efforts and time in vain. This was not because of a bad visit but because I would not get to see the sick. So I would leave and try to come back a few hours later but would miss them again. I found myself wasting valuable time driving back and forth, with my efforts continually being met with discouragement. Unfortunately, no one had told me this simple and obvious tactic—leave a note.
There are numerous situations in which the people you have gone to visit will be unavailable. In hospitals they may have been taken for a test on another floor. They may be unconscious. They may be with a doctor or nurse and not taking visitors. In nursing homes they may be in activities or sleeping. In rehab centers they leave their room to do therapy several times a day. Even when you go to a home, they may not be home or able to get up and answer the door. Leaving a note in these kinds of scenarios has been a very helpful and fruitful solution. Leaving a note communicates and accomplishes several aspects of care that you would have pursued had you been able to see them. Here is an example of the kind of simple handwritten note I leave:
Sorry I (we) missed you. Know that I am praying for you and trusting God’s sovereign plans and purposes for you in this difficult time. I talked with the nurse and will let the congregation know of your updated circumstances. Please let me know if there is any way I can serve you or your family through this time. You can reach me day or night at this number: _______________.
Grateful for you,
Brian & (others with you)
A note lets them know that we took the time to come, we are praying for them, we want to serve them any way we can, and that they are still connected to their local church despite their circumstances. They can read this note over and over again for their encouragement long after you have gone.
I have found church members, who kept every note I wrote and left for them while in the hospital, later display these notes in their home. Do not underestimate the impact of a kind card or note hand-delivered to the hospital at a key time. This is the practical help I keep coming back to over and over again as I find myself in these situations often. Leave a note. It is amazing the power and impact it has on the one who receives it while in the hospital longing for an encouraging word.