Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Tips to Help Others in Their Time of Need

Yesterday I had the honor of bringing a dinner to a friend whose parents live down the road from me. She had reached out to let friends and family know the update on her ailing father, who had been placed on hospice care.  She was staying at her parent's home, so I sent her a text and said, what day is best for me to bring over a dinner?  I didn’t give the option of what can I do for you, rather I gave her the option of choosing what day was best to come over. Sometimes in that situation emotions are all over the place and a person doesn’t want to impose on anyone offering help.  I had told my friend that I knew what she and her family were going through as it was my story 8 years ago with my step-dad.  I said if no one answered the door, I’d put the dinner in the kitchen and leave quietly. I felt in my core that a hearty hot dinner would help feed the tummy and the gift of a neighbor bringing dinner over would also be a soothing balm in a time of sadness. My friend said, can you please stay for a bit when you come?  I said yes.  So last night, I brought homemade lentil chili, apple/carrot salad, grabbed a green salad mix and rolls from the store, brought a bottle of wine, along with some tea along with  freshly baked pumpkin cranberry bread to their home. All comfort food. My friend said it’s so nice to see a fresh face and offered me a glass of wine.  As we sat down, I noticed a cozy fire in the fireplace, the warm glow of the lights on their Christmas tree and there was a sense of quiet acceptance of what was coming and peace. I once again realized that when we all get to the end that all we have are our memories and family.  Their father was resting in his room and the family members were taking turns staying with him while the rest of the family gathered together in that warm cozy living room.  We chatted for about ½ hour and I took my leave.  About 45 minutes after I had left, my friend texted that her dad had started  the new chapter in his life in heaven and that her brother was with him telling him how much everyone loved him.  What a beautiful end to well lived life.
 
Here are a few tips to offer the family or person who have had someone close pass away or who have faced a tragic event. (Side note:  Before I had ever experienced any kind of  tragedy- I didn't know what to say to others, let alone know what i should do for them - so sadly most of the time I didn't do anything.  But I experienced the kindness of others first hand during my time of darkness with the loss of a couple family members followed by my sudden divorce- and these acts of kindness will forever warm my heart and soul. And it forever changed me for the better and helped me to seek to be a better friend)

1)      Don’t say "call me if you need anything"as most people won’t do that.  Rather, reach out to them to offer to bring a dinner and ask what day is convenient. ( Note: be specific and ask is Monday, Wednesday or Friday a good day?) This way they can choose and don’t feel like they have to be polite and say oh you don’t have to do that.  Ask about dietary preferences, likes etc. and if possible make a dinner that can easily be frozen for later.  Use disposable pans too.

2)      If the family asks you to stay, please do. They may need that small distraction of a friendly face.  I found light general conversation helps and is a pleasant distraction.

3)      While cards and flowers are a nice gesture, I particularly found those that reached out after the death who come by to visit,brought food or said we’re going to a movie  - that they were the best medicine for a hurting heart.  Make it a priority in your schedule, plan and do it.  Good intentions are hollow. Action is what is needed.  Put yourself in their place and you will know it is the right thing to do.

4)      Ask them “how are you today?”   The “Today” is the key word in making the question personal and letting the person know they don’t have to answer with something generic.  They can answer from the heart (if they so choose).  Let them talk and all you have to say is “ I care”. I found that those who addressed the “elephant in the room” were greatly appreciated by me. Don’t worry about upsetting a person by mentioning the person who died or a tragic event. If you are uncomfortable, the other person sees it and makes them uncomfortable. Again, just a caring gesture of a hand laid on your arm, a gentle smile and the words, “I am so sorry” help. The other person will decide where the conversation will go.

5)      Be the kind of friend that you would want if you were in that situation. ( this was reinforced for me and I cherish true friends)
As always, thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment on the blog post, share it if you find value or shoot me an email at swheatfarmlife@gmail.com. I love hearing from you.
All my best, Gayle