I was emailing a friend of mine whose father is having surgery tomorrow to let him know that I was praying for the family. I also wanted to know if there was anything that I could do to help out during this time of need. In the email I sent, I wanted to make sure I clarified the word help.
All too often, when there is a need or an illness, we say we want to help. The phrase, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do,” is spoken so often, that I believe that we don’t understand what we mean when we say it. Let me give an example here. Some individuals will say it with no intention of doing anything other than sending flowers and a get well card. And others will offer prayers, a casserole to be frozen, or a visit after the surgery. There is nothing wrong with any of these at all. They are all forms of help and they all play a role.
The best way to offer help is to clarify how we can help an individual, because help does take on so many forms. It is helpful to send flowers and get well wishes. It is helpful to have a few visitors, although this really should be reserved for family and a few close friends. It is beneficial to have a few casseroles frozen for quick meals during recovery time. But, what about the rest of the stuff that needs attention that few people think of?
It might be helpful:
If someone could run errands
Feed the pets
Take the trash out
Gather the mail and watch for time sensitive materials
Mow the yard
Do a load or two of laundry
Get the kids to school or pick them up
Water plants or a garden
Run for prescriptions
Pick up carry out or have a pizza delivered
Sometimes the help is not just needed by the individual who is ill or having surgery. Sometimes the help is a blessing to the other family members who are assisting the recovering person. Imagine welcoming relief for a frazzled wife who is helping her spouse recover after surgery while trying to manage the kids and house alone. Sometimes it’s the family who can use the extra assistance while they provide care and support to the recovering individual.
So the next time you hear yourself say, “Let me know if there is anything I can do,” be sure to clarify how you are willing to help. You might be the one person they contact when they need a flower removal crew for all the persons who helped by sending the flowers.
Tip: It is essential that the family also not be bombarded with help. To eliminate stress, it is best to establish one person in or close to the family as the “go to” person for updates and inquiries on the needs of the family. Consider this person a project manager. Providing that person with a list of phone numbers for people who can run errands, babysit, cook, clean, and mow will give them all the information they need to call on individuals for help if it is needed. It will allow the family to maintain peace of mind while knowing that all the help they could possibly need is one phone call away.