You may know someone (a friend, family member, or maybe a neighbor) who has experienced a crisis: health problems, surgery, death of a family member, car accident, house fire, etc.
But many of us may be unsure of the best way to help, even though we really truly want to help. Knowing the right thing to say or do can be very tricky, depending on the particular situation and your personal relationship with the person.
“Let me know what I can do for you…”
While said with the BEST of intentions, this rather vague statement leaves the onus on your friend to ask for help. I know that I have a really hard time asking for help, so I try to be mindful of this, and ask specific questions like “Can I bring you ______ this weekend?”
Having been involved in organizing help for many friends and community members, here are some of the best things I’ve found to be helpful in times of need…
Offer to Help with Child Care
Can I take your kids to school or pick them up this week? Can I take them for the night? For the weekend? For a playdate?
The FIRST thing I’m concerned about when everything is falling apart is my children being taken care of. Offering to help with arranging child care could be a huge weight off their shoulders. Also, if this is a family emergency of sorts, it’s usually a good idea to maintain some level of normalcy and routine for children. Keeping up with school and extra-curricular activities is important.
Bring A Meal or Set Up a Meal Train
As moms, we know how incredibly helpful it can be to not have to worry about dinner. You can drop off a hot meal (homemade or take-out), drop off freezer meals that are easily prepared, or even just order pizza to be delivered (this is a great option if your friend lives far away.) You can find a variety of easy meals and desserts HERE, and restaurant deals this way!
Setting up a Meal Train is super easy, and it’s FREE! Meal Train is a great way to organize meals for as many dates as needed, and you can easily share on social media through their website, making it easier to find volunteers to sign up and drop off meals. One of the BEST things about Meal Train is that you can enter your friend’s food likes, dislikes, allergies, and the best time to drop off a meal.
Tip: While free food will ALWAYS be appreciated, make a note of what other volunteers have signed up to bring – no one wants to eat spaghetti for 2 weeks straight. 😉
A few months ago I had a hysterectomy, and I had several friends reach out to me and ask if I needed anything. Looking and feeling like death, I had zero interest in seeing anyone.
One evening a friend of mine sent me a text that simply said, “Knock, knock.” When I went to my door, she had left dinner on my doorstep. Tears poured down my cheeks because she totally understood how much I didn’t want to deal with seeing people and trying to make polite small-talk, but that I really did want some dinner that I didn’t have to cook!
Small things like that really do make the biggest difference! Consider dropping off a bottle of wine or a special treat to help them feel better.
Tip: Leave a cooler outside their door for meals to be left in. That way they don’t need to see anyone, and the meal is protected from weather, pets, etc.
Grocery Shop for Your Friend
Consider doing some grocery shopping for your friend. Again, if you’re not local, a great option is to send them a paid subscription for a service that delivers groceries and other household items. Some great options include Amazon.com and Jet.com.
Help With Housework or Running Errands
Depending on the situation, this can be extremely important. Even just making phone calls can be a big help for someone who is very overwhelmed, or perhaps stuck at a hospital or something. Offering directly to complete a to-do list might be just what your friend needs.
Look for laundry services in your area, as well. That’s a chore that piles up quickly and becomes really stressful when you’re unable to complete it. This service is invaluable when you need to be focused on something else, or simply are not capable of doing it.
Each situation will have different needs and priorities, but you should only offer to help if you truly can!
Important tip: Don’t force your friend to accept your help, and don’t assume that you know what they need. They might be genuinely covered, and simply don’t need any more cooks in the kitchen, if you know what I mean. Offering is still polite, and means a lot, but know when to wish them well and step back.
If all they need is a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, do your best to be fully present and available for that. It’s also important that you don’t share the details of the situation with anyone else without permission. If they trust you enough to share this with you, don’t destroy that trust.
Organize a Fundraiser
If your friend needs financial assistance, a good way to help is to organize a fundraiser. While GoFundMe can be a very useful resource for crowdfunding, it’s not always the most effective because of the sheer number of GoFundMe campaigns. Some other ideas include holding a large-scale yard sale, bake sale or dinner party, silent auction, or a car wash.
Another good idea is to find a volunteer photographer to offer family pictures, as the costs are essentially zero, so the price paid can go toward your cause.
If you’re looking to host a silent auction, make a list of connections you have to potential donors for items to be auctioned, as well as to attend the auction and bid on the items. Make a list of all the different social groups you’re part of, both online and off: mom groups, church groups, coworkers, classmates, etc.
Continue the Support…
If the situation is ongoing, continue to offer help and support for as long as needed. Oftentimes, a lot of support will come pouring in in the beginning, even to the point of being too much, and then it dwindles as people move on and get busy with their own lives again.
Try to carve out time to keep checking in, as it fits your schedule and financial availability. A quick text, even if it goes unanswered, still lets them know that you’re thinking about them, and that you’re available. I know that I’m horrible at replying to texts sometimes, so don’t take it personal if they don’t. If nothing else, calling and checking in costs nothing and lets them know you care.
Written by Danielle for Hip2Save. Danielle is a proud mom to 5 amazing kids in Utah, who lives for coffee and baking. She’s dedicated to balancing her own interests and passions, while encouraging her children to follow their own paths in life.