We have all been guilty of uttering the phrase, "Let me know if I can do anything" when a friend or loved one is sick, has an emergency, or other situation. We believe these words will absolve us of our duty to actually take action. After all, if our friend or family really needed something they would tell us, wouldn't they? The reality is that our friends and family usually do not want to trouble us. Sure, we all know that one needy person who ALWAYS needs something and isn't ashamed to ask no matter how trivial. However, the majority of us have too much pride to admit that we cannot do everything on our own or be our own support system.
The idea for this post weighed on my heart as I was typing the words "let me know what I can do" to my sister. Her daughter was in the hospital for three weeks before prematurely giving birth to triplets. Of all people, I should be proactive in a situation as this. Waiting around to find out if I can do something is wrong. I was in a similar situation as my niece when our second son decided to come thirteen weeks early. After three long, miserable weeks in the hospital he was born. Then he had a long hospital stay.
There are other members of my family who have declining health. They spend much time at home, doctors offices, or in the hospital. Living in a different state is not an excuse for me. There is always something I can do for others who are experiencing trials.
We need to reword our intention. Instead of saying, "Let me know what I can do", we should state WHAT we are going to do and WHEN.
5 Things We CAN DO for Others :
1. Call or Send a Card
Sure, sometimes they won't be available. Leave a message and let your loved one know what time they may call you back. The fact that you thought to call will brighten their day. When I was in the hospital for three weeks trying to grow a bigger baby I received many cards. Each one was appreciated. Knowing that people took the time to write out sentiments was very encouraging.
2. Visit or Accompany to Appointments
A visit to a person who is shut in, in the nursing home, or hospital may be the only contact they have with non caregivers that day. You do not have carry on a conversation the entire time. Sometimes all you need is a friend to be present during a difficult experience. Offering to take them to an appointment or being there during a treatment means more than you will ever know. The offer can be presented as, "I am going to take you to your next treatment. What day is that?"
3. Provide a meal
Even during life's difficulties we must eat. My husband's coworkers and our church family made sure there was food for my husband and son. At least three nights a week during my stay and after the baby was born someone provided a meal. My husband was able to concentrate on working, visiting the hospital, and taking care of our 8 year old. Meals do not have to be elaborate. I have ordered takeout for friends that are not local. Another option is to send a gift card. All we need to do is call our friend and say, "I am bringing over food tomorrow afternoon. What time works for you?"
Even though the subject can be uncomfortable, money is usually needed and appreciated. Instead of spending it on flowers give your friend or family member the cash instead. When there is an illness or emergency families use a lot of fuel making many trips to hospitals and doctor's offices. Those miles add up to a lot of fuel. Cash can come in handy. During this time people also depend on fast meals. A roll of quarters for vending machines is especially useful for the mom or dad who is camped out at the hospital waiting for NICU visiting hours. Instead of asking if they need money present it in a card or hand the cash to them saying, "I want you to have this."
The simplest but most important thing you can offer a person who is sick or going through difficulties is prayer. Pray with them and pray for them. Pray often. Name that person and their situation in your prayers. We know that God is listening. James 5:16 The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
Sometimes we all need a reminder that good intentions don't get the job done. I know that I do.