When my husband had open heart surgery a year-and-a-half ago, we found out quickly who are true friends were. Our immediate and extended family stood by our side, even through the numerous complications my husband faced (and continues to face). Friends, some whom we didn’t even know very well, were the first to “step up to the plate” when a need arose.
So many people blessed us during that time that we will be forever grateful.
How can you help someone going through a difficult time?
- Pray. And not only praying for the person in need, but also praying with them. Take a moment and lift up that person and their needs to the Lord. Several people did this for us, whether in person or by telephone, and it meant a lot.
- Make contact. I was surprised when I heard from a few people long after the surgery that they didn’t want to “bother us” while we were going through our difficult time. The worst thing you can do for someone going through a difficult time is to avoid contact. This is when they need you the most.
- Investigate. How can you help? Do they need meals? Grocery delivery? Kids taken to an extra-curricular activity? The car filled up with gas for their next doctor’s appointment?
- Be specific. Instead of saying, “let me know if you need anything,” which leaves the person in need an easy-way-out of not asking, say, “what can I do to help?” Or “I’m going grocery shopping later today. What can I pick up for you?”
- Check in often. One of our dearest friends checked in a couple times a week just to let us know she was thinking about us and continuing to pray. A quick text or phone call means a lot, as does a traditionally-mailed card.
- Don’t make it about you. This isn’t the time to place the guilt on the person in need because they aren’t able to have lunch with you as often as you’d like.
- Don’t stop caring. How many times do we stop helping someone going through a lengthy crisis long before they stop needing our help? Be there for the long haul.
- Think of the little things. We hear a lot about the mowing of yards or the shoveling of driveways. But what about the little things? Picking up their mail or newspaper while they are out of town overnight at the hospital, for instance. A friend of ours offered to water our newly-planted trees. That gesture was such a blessing to us.
- Be mindful of those with chronic illness. Three family members of mine suffer from chronic illness. It’s a day-to-day never-ending struggle with intense pain for each of them. Be there for them, even if they just need to talk.
- Don’t give unsolicited advice. Or pressure them into a supposed “cure-all” for their circumstance or illness. I.e., “If you would only take these special supplements, you would be cured of your heart issue.”
- Offer some respite. Know a newly-divorced mom? Offer to babysit her children while she tends to important matters. Know an exhausted caregiver? Offer to assist where needed.
- Be a listening ear through the grief. Know someone who has recently lost a loved one? Be a listening ear through the sadness and the memories.
- Help monetarily. If you know the person in need has accumulated numerous medical bills or is off work for any length of time, a small donation is always welcome.
What ways have you extended help to someone in need? Have you ever been on the receiving end of extraordinary kindness while going through a difficult time?