Thursday, June 8, 2017

10 Ways To Help Out A Neighbor Or Friend During Difficult Times

We are on day 3 of the Meal Train we coordinated for a neighbor friend of ours. If you missed that story, you can read about it here. Since Monday, I've been making and heating up hot meals for our neighbor friend and her Mama. This was made possible by people in our community who came forth and assisted with ingredients, pre-made meals, and funds to purchase ingredients. Every evening, shortly before 5 p.m., we deliver these meals. They are both exceptionally grateful.

Shortly after I published the Meal Train update on my Facebook wall and the blog column, several people reached out asking for some advice. They knew of a neighbor, co-worker, and friend who were going through a difficult time. One had a death in the family, the other was a week away from a major surgery, and the other was in the middle of chemotherapy treatments. There was a common theme to the stories they shared.

They wanted to help out, but didn't know how. That's common and it all depends on how well you know the person. Regardless of your relationship, there are things you can do to help out.

1. Refrain from asking, "Do you need anything?" I know that sounds like odd advice, but most people hesitate to answer honestly. They'll usually reply with, "Nope, we're fine" or "We're all set." It's difficult for people to swallow their pride or relinquish a little of their independence. I'm the same way.

2. Instead, focus on one thing and ask questions that pertain to the details. For example, you might ask, "I'd like to provide hot meals for your family Friday and Saturday. Do you have food allergies or any meal preferences?" Or, "We'd like to mow your lawn and take care of yard work this weekend. Which day and what time would be best?" By presenting it in this manner, you're letting them know you're already going to do this. They just need to provide you with a few details.

3. Take a few steps back. Put yourself in their shoes. If you had to endure major surgery in a week, make a list of things you would need help with. You'd be surprised at how long that list gets. When you're finished with the list, customize it to fit the needs of the person you know who will be needing assistance for a bit. Go from there.

4. Offer to take care of their fur-kids. Our neighbor friend has a pup. Her Mama is unable to take care of her so Lisa assisted with her fur-kid when needed. You can offer to take the fur-kids for walks, feed them, provide companionship throughout the day and evening if no one will be home, and clean litter boxes or piles of poop in the yard.

5. Provide transportation or run errands. This is huge especially for those who have human kids. There are errands to run, grocery lists to shop for, the kids might have soccer practice, appointments that family members need to attend, and everything between. Or maybe, they just need to get out of the house for a bit.

6. Grab the vacuum and Pledge. Getting behind on housework can spiral out of control in a relatively short period of time. In our home, if our carpets go a day without being vacuumed, they look horrible. I can thank 4 light furred kids and dark carpets for that. The same goes for most housework chores in our home. Offer to spend a couple of hours doing housework once or twice a week. This may include dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, organizing, etc. Every little bit helps.

7. Care packages can do wonders for the soul. In the past, I've made care packages for people who have had surgery and are recovering. I filled a basket with personalized items such as books, magazines, personal care items, teas, chocolate, hard candy, gift cards for takeout meals, dry shampoo, nail polish, crackers and cheese, facial wipes, etc. Every recipient said, "This is SO much better than flowers."

8. Companionship. I'll never forget visiting a friend years ago shortly after she lost her husband. Her words have stayed with me over the years. She said, "The first week, lots of people visit and bring meals and gifts, but after that, it's lonely. People stop visiting." The same holds true for those recovering from surgery. Visit frequently, especially after the first week. Bring lunch or a snack. Spend a couple of hours chatting. Or, if they're able to, take them out for lunch or coffee.

9. A fresh coat of nail polish does wonders. Those who are recovering from surgery, or suffering from debilitating health issues, are often in need of a personal pick-me-up. In the past, I've washed hair, gave in-home manicures and pedicures, brushed and styled hair, and bought gorgeous pajamas and bathrobes for them to change into. This goes a long way.

10. Meal Trains. Providing hot meals during any difficult time is a life saver, especially for those who have kids or are taking care of elderly relatives. You can organize a Meal Train Calendar at the Meal Train website or use other means of coordinating. We're doing our Meal Train for a week and I used Facebook. Within a couple of hours, we had enough food, pre-made meals, and funds to purchase ingredients for a week. Before starting a Meal Train, be sure to ask about food allergies, preferences, and for a list of foods they don't like.

If you have any ideas I can add to the list, I'd love to hear from you!

No comments:

Post a Comment