Teaching Children About Bikkur Cholim: Visiting the Ill
In the merit of Eliezer Halevi ben Raizel. May the Almighty visit him, as He did Abraham, and bring a complete recovery. How can young children, who are far away from a sick grandparent, fulfill the Mitzvah of visiting the ill?
Children are often frightened when illness strikes a close relative. They confront mortality and often feel helpless. However, there are many things they can do to fulfill the Mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim:
1. Call regularly and write letters and cards that express the child’s constant love for the sick person.
2. They should ask the person about them. They should not just speak of themselves.
3. They should accept to perform a Mitzvah with extra care in the merit of their sick relative.
4. They should be extra supportive of their parent who is dealing with a sick parent of their own. The Mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim is not only to help the person who is sick: It includes supporting the caregiver so that he feels stronger is caring for his parent.
5. They should convey messages that will offer nachas to the grandparent who is ill.
6. They should be encouraged to use their creativity in fulfilling both Bikkur Cholim and honoring their parent who is dealing with the sick relative.
Parents have a special opportunity to teach their children about Honoring Parents and Bikkur Cholim when there is someone in the family who is ill. It is an opportunity that should not be missed.
Parents should also take time to speak with their children and allow them to express their fears.