In June 2012, our almost-three-year-old son was diagnosed with Leukemia. Finding out he had cancer was the hardest day of my life.
Many people ask me what they can do for a friend in a similar situation, for someone that needs emotional or physical support. Family is expected to help out (though honestly, they don’t always do so), but friends don’t hold the same obligation. I am beyond blessed to have the world’s most amazing group of women in my life that sincerely made a difficult and trying situation more manageable.
So, here are my tips for helping a friend or family member in crisis.
1) FOOD! As many new moms know having a home cooked meal or even take-out delivered to your doorstep is phenomenal. When dealing with an emotional rollercoaster the last thing you want to think about is what to eat or what to feed your family. Most people stop eating all together when in crisis. Not good! Having a meal train organized from a loving supporter is a blessing. Websites such as mealtrain.com and takethemameal.com make the planning process easy and let the recipients state any allergies or aversions they may have. Seriously, this small act of kindness goes a long way.
2) VISITS! While a grieving friend may want to hide in her plush duvet and skip her mascara, she will appreciate a short visit. Having a distraction from the pain can really help. Also, having someone to vent to or cry with can be a huge mood lifter. Sometimes it is easiest to talk to a friend rather than a spouse, as the spouse may be too emotional as well. Not sure what to say to your bestie? Just listen. You have two ears for a reason.
3) LITTLE GOODIES! On occasion a friend would bring me a little something special just for me. In my situation all my time, energy and thoughts went toward my little cancer warrior. To receive a gourmet cupcake, new lip gloss, or trashy magazine gave me a lift. It took a long time to do anything for myself after his diagnosis. When a friend did something for me it didn’t feel selfish. Such a treat!
4) FOR THE KIDS! Since our son was still so young and we had a 18-month-old daughter at home keeping them both entertained each day was one of my biggest challenges. And these kids wouldn’t even watch movies! From day one toys and crafts arrived in grandiose proportions. The games, coloring, science activities, and learning tools gave us direction in our day and helped to ward off painful thoughts. Find out what the kids are into and create a care package for them. All it takes are some goodies from the Dollar Store to perk the kiddos up.
5) BABYSITTING! If your friend has young children she is not always able to take care of herself because she is occupied with keeping her children safe and happy. Never do we want our kids to see us cry either. By offering to watch one or more of her kids, she can have the opportunity to get away for some needed rest, a date night with her husband, or even a quick jaunt to Nordstrom for a mindless shopping spree. And trust me, those helped!
Overall being a good friend means checking in with your gal pal to see how you can help. She will likely say “I am fine”. Now you have a playbook to reference after she blows you off. Believe me, she does want and need help. Now go start the oven!