I recall seeing a friend of mine post on Facebook that her friend's daughter had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and that she wanted to help her friend in some way but didn't know how. A well-meaning person had responded saying, "Just be there for her. When she needs something she'll let you know." I privately messaged my friend and said, "I totally disagree with that person. Here are some things you can do."
When Evie was sick with cancer, a person could say, "Call me anytime" and it would go in one ear and out the other for me. I was sleep deprived, medicated for migraines, and utterly exhausted physically and emotionally. For me to even TRY to consider delegating tasks that people could help with was too much for me. I was busy making sure we made it to appointments, we were giving the right medications at the right times, and we were still trying to maintain our sanity. Calling people to ask them to do something was not part of my daily activities.
So what can we do to help people who are sick, or who are caregivers for the sick, or people who are mourning the loss of a loved one? I'll answer that by writing what people did for us that was so helpful when Evie was sick.
- On a couple of occasions our sidewalk and driveway were shoveled clear of snow before we even knew it had happened.
- On a couple of occasions, people would call me and say, "I'm bringing food over; will you be home at (this) time?"
- My mother-in-law had secretly had a photographer take pictures of Evie and then had them printed, framed and wrapped for Christmas presents, even including my side of the family. Considering I was taking care of an infant with cancer while still working fulltime, that was a tremendous relief.
- We received gift cards for the local grocery store in the mail; along with gas cards.
We didn't have any additional children, but I imagine that a neighbor, friend or relative who calls and says, "I'm taking your kids to ....today" would be welcomed and wonderful blessing. Siblings can have a hard time when a parent is busy being a caregiver.
In our case, with just one child, it's helpful to have someone offer to stay with that child too. For example, I wanted to do the routine things; that's what helped keep me sane. So I wanted people to say, "Can I stay with Evie while you go get your haircut?" or "I'll watch Evie while you run to Target." That sort of "regular" stuff becomes hard to do when busy caring for a sick person; but it's also some of the most relaxing times because it's a reminder of life "before" and hopefully a similar life "after".
Now, when I'm considering friends and acquaintances who are struggling through difficult times, rather than praying solely for a restoration of health or for their difficult situation to be resolved, I'll also pray for God to show me clearly how best I can help them. Is it a card with some scripture, or a coffee date, or a gift card for a great restaurant? Is it visiting the sick person so the caregiver and do some laundry or wash some dishes? Is it raking, mowing or shoveling without being sought out and asked?
"Eeyore," he [Pooh] said solemnly, "I, Winnie-the-Pooh, will find your tail for you."
Precious Heavenly Father, Please help ME find Eeyore's tail for someone in my life today...