Many of the best-intentioned among us tend to shrink into the background when a friend or co-worker is facing a crisis. The main reason cited is that we don’t know what to do. Let these seven tips guide you when someone you care about is facing illness, job loss, fire, or death in the family.
1. Let the neighbor know exactly what you are going to do for them.
It creates an extra burden for them when you ask what you can do. They have enough on their minds, and may simply tell you everything is under control. It is better to suggest what you can do.
2. Provide a meal or casserole for the freezer.
Rule number one: disposable containers! It is okay to be a little less green in these situations. Ask about allergies or fussy eaters, especially if there are kids in the family. Usually anything that you bring will be enjoyed and appreciated.
3. Offer to run errands.
Again, specific offers are easier for them to comprehend. Even though they are stressed, people do not want to feel burdensome. Offering to grocery shop, or drop off a suit at the cleaners, or to pick up prescriptions can be very helpful.
4. Drive children to where they need to go.
Chances are, the parents could use a little break or private time. Keeping children on regular schedules for ballet or baseball practice or music lessons could be a Godsend.
5. Take over on lawn care or kitchen work.
How many people stop and clean the bathroom or the family room before rushing to the hospital? Raking leaves or mowing a lawn is a practical gift to someone who cant get around to it. Having a neat place to come home to, or to recuperate in, is priceless.
6. Appoint yourself doorkeeper.
Often the family members need sleep, but they dont want to ignore friends and family who call to check up on them. You can let it be known that youll send out updates and will be happy to field calls from your circle of friends or co-workers.
7. Realize that you are not intruding by offering to help.
Given a choice between having too many calls or visitors, and having none, most people would like the problem of too many. Sometimes people feel invisible when they are going through troubles, as if their situation might be contagious. Small, simple gestures are often enough to remind someone that they are not forgotten.