major, life-changing obstacles. I usually let my fear of looking stupid (i.e. showing up on the doorstep with the sixth frozen lasagna they have received in three days), to gradually talk me out of doing anything. With the outpouring of love and concern we've felt this week, I have gained new insight into how I would answer the question "what can we do to help". Hopefully after I take care of my cancer, I will be able to use my new perspective to be a better friend and neighbor. Here are some thoughts I've had and some that I've read (while sitting in waiting rooms, of course).
- Don't ask, just do. If there is an obvious need, like a filthy car, lawn that needs mowing, a bike with a flat tire in the garage, a garden waiting to be tilled or a deck that was almost done before tragedy struck, just show up with some friends and do it. Asking often puts an unnecessary burden of decision on the recipient.
- Smaller is better. The less grand the act of kindness is, the better. Some examples are:
- A friendly note or email of encouragement
- A prayer in someone's behalf, especially on a day of treatment or testing (yes, they WILL feel it).
- Taking their child to the orthodontist, basketball practice, youth group, etc.
- Loan them a favorite DVD to watch (preferably uplifting, comedy).
- Bring a small food gift. Large, full course meals can add up to lots of leftovers. Sometimes appetites are decreased when dealing with stress. A loaf of bread or a fruit salad provides needed nourishment and are a ray of relief anytime.
- Be a good listener and confidante. Everyone says that one of the biggest blessings is someone trustworthy and caring to talk to.
- Distract the spouse or children once in while with something fun like flying kites, going to the dollar show, or overnight camping (contingent on how long the patient can be left alone). They will appreciate a break from the "world of the oppressed" and any reminder that life will be normal again someday.
- Don’t be a messenger of doom and gloom. Okay you had a cousin that had the same condition and passed away as a result. This is not the time to share this story. Instead be positive and encouraging no matter the situation.
- Don't take it personally if your phone calls are not returned. Sometimes it's hard to reciprocate when you're emotionally tapped out. The consistent friend, even when it seems to turn into a one-way relationship, is the true friend.
We will never forget all that has been done, said, and sacrificed for us already. Everything has helped. Everything.