You can volunteer to drive them to appointments with 48 hour notice.
If you are available on shorter notice let them know that. I quickly learned when you have multiple appointments, arrangements can fall through and you need a backup plan.
You want to bring a meal in once a week.
Even when people don't share an immediate need for mealtime assistance. Trust me, it's appreciated to get the random call in the morning that tells you, "Don't think about dinner tonight, I'm bringing it." I call it Respite Care, which is the unexpected relief of daily responsibilities. Hint* Always mark the containers or dishes with your name. I thought I would remember every kind soul who provided us with meals. But I can't tell you how many times I held a casserole dish and had no clue which of those 7 people brought it. If you want disposable containers back, mark them as well so we know to return them.
You can watch little ones during appointments.
SUCH a challenge for people with "littles".
You can run errands for them.
You are willing to vacuum (clean the kitchen or bathroom) once a week.
Offer to assist THEM in doing these things. My husband did not find changing the sheets regularly as important as I did. But I had to have help doing so.
You will do their laundry.
Suggest they do their own underthings, trust me it makes a big difference in accepting laundry help when you know they won't be washing your personal items.
Send a child over to drag their trash can to the street and return it after it’s been emptied.
This is nice for elderly neighbors, or those with permanent handicap.
Drop off unexpected treats to them.
Whether it's a tray of cookies or a movie DVD, it's a break in the sameness of each day of illness or recovery. It's encouraging to know that someone randomly thought of you and wanted to bless you. *With movies please advice them if there's a return date and time. Better yet, tell them when you will be back to get the movie to return it. If it's a personal dvd then let them know there's no rush to view it, and when they can return it. A movie and a box of microwave popcorn is a joy for a household of "littles."
Recruit other friends, classmates, Bible study companions to sign up for various chores so everything needed is covered.
Together decide how to divide the responsibilities, and then appoint one person to serve as the "communication link" between the team of helpers and the person in need. My pastor’s wife organized meals for my “chemo week”. She gave me a list of volunteers who were bringing meals or giving gift cards so I knew who to expect and when. I was able to tell her what foods was not working with my chemo and what food I was desperately craving (anything banana).
Consider other members of the family affected.
Including something meaningful to them is always appreciated and it brings joy to the person in need.
Don't assume that someone going through extended illness, treatments, recovery, hospitalization wants to get out of the house with you. I felt so bad turning down an offer from someone who wanted to take me out for an ice cream treat. I was too exhausted to chew, much less make an effort to dress for public, then make a trip out and back. I would have rather she just brought me the ice cream. Please don't be offended if someone is just too tired to go out to dinner with you. But it's fine to ask. Particularly adults who are camping in hospital waiting rooms, often need time away to eat, shower and just decompress a bit.
If you aren't able to offer physical assistance, know that cards, music, novels and magazines are appreciated. One of my sisters flooded me with cards that touched and others that made me laugh. Laughter in recovery and illness is important as well. Not everything has to be "spiritually oriented." A good ole belly laugh cleansed the soul as well.
|Yes, those were my nails, |
responding to the nail hardeners.
Because I was concerned about losing my fingernails, long distance friends mailed bottles of nail hardening nail polishes in various colors of rose and pink. It delighted me every. single. time.
Another friend sent me a tea cup tucked among soft knit chemo hats. She wrote that she had a matching cup and we could imagine sharing a cuppa tea with each other when we used our tea cups. It made me happy but I also bawled for 30 minutes from the sweetness of her gesture. (sniff)
And hugs are good. Hugs are always good. Just be cautious of healing incisions or body trauma.
Even if we say no to your first offer, ask again later on. When we are weary from the struggle of trying to juggle all the things we thought we could do, the enormity of our situation now faces us down; we are more likely run up the white flag of surrender and accept your loving assistance.