A friend or family member is navigating stormy waters and you wonder what to do – keep quiet, bring food, offer a hug, stay out of the way…
Several years ago I faced serious medical problems and had three surgeries in one year. Friends surrounded me with loving support. If you want to help someone, but don’t know where to start, try some of these ideas. Most of them can apply to different types of situations.
- Bring food. Nope, I’m not an Italian mother, but I still believe it’s a time-honored and practical way to show you care. Make it simple, freezable, and kid-friendly, if appropriate. If you haven’t the time or aren’t comfortable, give a gift card to a local supermarket or restaurant.
- Do the laundry. Or just one load. Or fold the one that’s already done. Or sort all the socks.
- Help with the cleaning. Freshen up one room, sweep the floors, dust the furniture, scrub the bathrooms, load the dishwasher, clean out the fridge. Pick one. Every little bit helps.
- Fresh flowers or green plants can help create a brighter outlook.
- Offer to run a few errands. Pick up the kids at school. Stop off at the pharmacy. Pick up some groceries.
- Offer childcare for a day or even a couple of hours. Parents can deal with a stressful situation better knowing their children are being lovingly cared for.
- Bring reading and writing materials. A pretty journal and a good pen are great for recording feels and experiences. The latest magazine featuring your friend’s interests can offer a temporary distraction.
- Share scriptures that hold real meaning for you. Your sincerity will shine and God can minister through you.
- Share success stories and research articles. If you have an article on the latest treatments, or if your Aunt Martha lived to be 97 after having this therapy, by all means share. But keep unwanted advice (“If I were you…), and negative comments (Don’t go to that counselor. Anyone with a tattoo like that can’t have good sense.”) to yourself.
- Share a laugh. Even in serious situation, appropriate humor can offer a fresh perspective and lighten the load.
- Put your friend’s comfort before your own. One of my dearest friends hates hospitals. But she visited me in the hospital every day, put cool cloths on my forehead, smoothed my covers, held my hand, made me smile.
There is a saying, “Friends are the flowers in the garden of life.” If you lighten someone else’s load, you’ll probably find yourself surrounded by your own lovely garden.