When a friend or family member is struggling through a difficult time, it is natural to want to lend a hand. Often, the families that need the most help are reluctant to ask for it, which makes it hard to know exactly how to help a friend.
Here are nine ideas for ways to show your support.
- Bring aMeal
This is an age-old idea. When a parent is not able to cook a meal for their family as usual, friends and family often send versatile casseroles, like lasagna. But try thinking outside the 13×9 pan.
Why not bring the family some options for breakfast or lunch? Stock the freezer with easy, ready to heat items like muffins, breakfast burritos or individual soups. Then the family can pull something out of the freezer when they are not up for cooking. Crunched for time or otherwise challenged in the kitchen? Bring the family their favorite take out or send a gift card.
- Set up a Meal Calendar
When one meal just doesn’t cover it, set up a meal calendar using websites like signupgenius.com or take them a meal.com. Discuss with the family the most convenient dates and times to deliver meals and solicit friends to fill all the open spots. Social media is a great place to recruit people you might not think to ask.
- Offer to Babysit
Show support by offering to babysit, even if it’s just for a couple of hours. If you are taking your own children to the park, swing by and pick up their children for the afternoon. This gives the kids a change of sceneryand gives the parents a much-needed break. Driving the kids to school or activities is also a big help for a family that is dealing with change.
- Help with Pets
Kids aren’t the only family members that need attention. If the family is making trips to the doctor or hospital, offer to feed the cat, walk the dog or just give the pet some playtime while its humans are otherwise occupied. This gives the family some peace of mind to concentrate on more pressing matters.
- Clean the House
Sweep the floor, change laundry loads, vacuum, do dishes or take out the trash. Even a little bit of picking up can make a big difference. A clean house during chaos can bring some much-needed tranquility during a chaotic time.
- Run Errands
If you are on your way to the store anyway, why not send a quick text and ask if the family needs anything—toilet paper, diapers or snacks? Does mom want a coffee or some lunch? Some grocery stores offer curbside pickup. Have the family order and pay for groceries online, then pick them up and deliver them. Offering to help put them away would be an extra bonus.
- Leave a Surprise
If the family is not up for visitors, leave a surprise on the doorstep. Create a care package with special treats, snacks and a card. If a new baby has arrived, older siblings might appreciate a new toy or game. If someone is ill, think about leaving items for pampering, such as magazines and personal care products. A delivery of flowers is another great way to cheer someone up without interrupting family time.
- Take Food to the Hospital
Eating at the hospital cafeteria can get monotonous. If someone is spending a lot of time at the hospital supporting a family member, offer to bring in food. Deliver homemade meals for them to warm up later or offer to sit at their loved one’s bedside while they take a walk and get some fresh air.
Sometimes a long talk is very therapeutic. When you visit, listen attentively and offer your support. Call and check on them, even if you just leave a voicemail. In these times of texts and emails, hearing a friend’s voice can be particularly comforting. But even an email or text shows you are offering support and gives your friend a chance to respond when the time is right.
When a family is walking a difficult path, it may be hard for them to ask for help or even recognize what would be helpful. These ideas are sure to make any family feel supported and loved.