Sometimes, life throws curveballs at you.. and sometimes, it throw them at those you love. Whether it’s a loss, a move, a sickness, or a heartbreak, many of us have the natural instinct to jump in to help. It’s not alway easy to know HOW to help though. We don’t want to burden the one hurting, but we also get stumped at the best way to help. Below are some ideas for situations our own family and friends have found themselves in over the last year..
- Sickness – of course this ranges from a couple days to more severe. For the simple sicknesses, consider dropping by a meal, an activity bag for kids, offering to take any healthy kids for a couple hours (or even sick ones if that doesn’t bother you), or door dashing some food/groceries/medicine if you aren’t local. If it’s a longterm sickness, care for pets, buy doggie daycare days, set up a meal train, take/pick up kids from school.
- Miscarriage – this one is hard because it can be one of the most isolating things to walk through, as I’m sure many reading this will understand. Ways that were helpful after our loss were of course meals, because when your body is going through that, you don’t feel like cooking. I have also given this devotional many times after a friend miscarried – Loved Baby. Write down the date of loss and the due date of the baby. When these days roll around, REACH OUT. Don’t be scared to “bring it up” – she’s already thinking about it. And you remembering her even months later, will be comforting that her baby had value and is not forgotten. Send flowers, drop off coffee, deliver cookies – anything that shows her that the world is not just moving on as if that little life never existed, but you are with her in the grief, no matter how long that takes. Give her space to be ok then not be ok. It’s a weird road to walk as your body changes, so give her the ability to trust you with all the back and forth.
- Death of close family member – when my step-dad suddenly passed away, we had no idea what we needed. In the chaos of grief, funeral arrangements, visitors, and processing, we were just hour by hour. One friend dropped off paper goods and while it seemed random, it was genius. Everyone is delivering meals, but who wants to wash dishes? When a friend loses a parent/sibling/spouse consider helping in ways listed as well as others – bring meals, deliver groceries, write down dates, activity bags for kids/grandkids so adults can make arrangements, take kids so parents can have time to process, paper goods, pick up/take out trash when you go visit, bring a treat when you go visit (coffee, cookies, flowers, pretzels – anything!) to spark a moment of joy. Attend the funeral if you are able. You may not think they will know, but oftentimes, they do.
- Job loss – again, meals. You can never go wrong with food. Consider a double batch of a normal meal you would take so they can freeze one. But in the sudden loss of income, more practical help may be needed. Offer to watch kids more than normal – the luxury of a babysitter may not be available anymore with less income. Depending on the severity of the situation, help as you are able financially with needs they mention. Many will not say, “I can’t pay our water bill now” but if you see that’s a need, just give the money. Don’t ask if you can, just do it. I’ve learned over the years to change my phrasing from, “Can I bring you dinner?” to “Would you rather dinner tonight or tomorrow?” That way it is clear you ARE helping, and then it takes the burden off the friend hurting from feeling like she is asking for help. Same thing with finances.. don’t ask “do you need help?” Just venmo/paypal/slip cash in her purse and say “Use this where you need while ya’ll walk through this. I love you.”
Overall, ANY help is better than no help. Oftentimes we get so stuck on helping the RIGHT way that we do nothing. Great intentions, terrible execution. When your friends are hurting, just be there. Be there in person. Be there through text. Be there in prayer. Just be there. Every situation is different and will have different needs, but if your desire is to love a friend in need, just do it. Reach out, even if you don’t know what to say. They may not answer, they may say they are fine, or they may unload. Give them the chance to be real if they are ready. And if they aren’t, they will still always know that you were there when things got rough. You may never know how much you meant to someone during a time of need, but they will never forget.