“Call me if you need anything.” Truly, that sounds really helpful. It sounds so very reassuring and kind. Sometimes, it is all we know to say. Can I tell you the truth? I would never call you to ask for help. Most likely neither will your friend or relative. Why not?
Call me if you need anything.
When a friend or close relative is going through a difficult time, you want to help. It is hard to see our friends and family face difficult seasons in their lives. With the best of intentions, many of us say, “Call me if you need anything!” Saying that to our friend in crisis is what we think we should say and I know we are just trying to help. Actually, your friend will probably never call. I realize it depends on the situation but I would venture to say 95% of people will not reach out.
WHY? They won’t reach out to you because they are too mentally exhausted to call you and ask for something. For example, if you have a friend with a recent medical diagnosis of cancer, your friend is struggling to cope with the news, may forget to eat and is trying to organize all of the appointments. Appointments are very draining mentally and physically. What CAN you do?
3 things you CAN do to help
1. Send a card
I know we live in a digital world but a card is one way to communicate that you care and that you are thinking about the person. Choose a card that fits the situation. A text message will get lost along with all of the other emails and messages but a card is something he/she can read over and over. Just start by saying…I was thinking about you today. I go by the motto:Less is more. When I was going through chemotherapy, I received so many cards. When I got home from work, I would open them or put them in a basket to open later. Sometimes, I was just too tired to talk to someone but I knew when I saw that return address, it brought a smile to my face. WHY?… because that person took time out of their busy, digital day to actually send me a card.
2. Visit for short periods of time
Visit your friend and talk about normal things just like you would do before diagnosis. I know this is hard. Believe me. I had someone see me at a store and dart down another aisle just to avoid talking to me. I get it. You don’t know what to say. That’s a good place to start. Just say, “I don’t know what to say but I wanted to stop by and see you. You can say: I care about you and I am here for you. Also, assure your friend that you are praying.
What NOT to say:
- “I understand.” No you don’t understand how that person feels. Nobody can understand how he/she feels even if you may have experienced a similar illness. Every illness is unique.
- “It’s going to be okay.” How do you know that it is going to be okay? I am a person of faith and I can’t guarantee that it is going to be okay. So, you can show how you care in other ways.
3. Goody Bag
Make a goody bag to include the latest magazines, notepads, pens and highlighters. You can even put some treats in the bag for others who may be living in the house. I remember receiving soft, fuzzy socks in a goody bag and I loved them. It was great to have the most current magazine or word search to take to chemo treatments. Chemo can be long and boring so I enjoyed my goody bag items.
So, call me because I probably wont call you.
Your friend probably won’t say that to you but now you have a few ideas of how to help your friend or family member.
How do I know?: I am a breast cancer survivor and advocate for women who teaches how to get through cancer without losing yourself. I am also a wife, mom, Mimi (Grandma) author, blogger and encourager at heart. As I passionately about share my journey through breast cancer, I meet the most amazing women every day. My story is published in my book Keeping It Real: Personal Reflections of My Journey Through Breast Cancer.
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I invite you to read my story and share it with your friends and family. Here is the link to Keeping It Real.