Sunday, August 05, 2007

Helping Others in Times of Need

There is something within our human spirit that reaches out to others when they are in pain. I am sure it is part of our divine nature. We long to ease the burden of our fellow man. But sometimes we are at a loss as to how to accomplish that.

When Joey was ill and after his passing, I was touched by MANY helping hands. Each one loving, unique, and full of generosity. It strengthened my little family, blessed our lives, gave us power to carry on, and eased our pain. You should never underestimate your personal power to help another.

After Joseph's passing, I have been keenly aware of others' suffering. Perhaps it is because we belong to an elite group of people that have suffered loss. It is a painful group to belong to, but it makes you sensitive to others' pain. It is an awakening of sorts.

But while losing someone you love makes you more aware; it does not take something so awful and so drastic to inspire empathy. Many of those that touched my life had not lost loved ones and yet knew exactly how to lift my spirits. I believe that is a gift of the spirit granted by the One that loves us most. I am grateful that people chose to exercise their gift in behalf of my family.

In appreciation for their amazing efforts and acts of kindness, I wanted to list some of the ways that we received assistance and additional and unique ways that you can help your fellow man. Sometimes having something specific that you can do, makes it easier to reach out.

Acts of Kindess:
* Take in a hot meal or a frozen meal for future use
* Offer to babysit their children in our out of their home
* Offer to take a child to an appointment or for lunch
* Mow their lawn or put out their garbage can on garbage day
* Drop off the message from church if they were unable to attend
* Purchase a gas card for them if they have multiple doctor appoints in far away cities
* Give them space when they need it, and be there when they need it
* Saying, "I'm sorry for your loss" is often all that's needed
* In lieu of flowers, send a plant or make a donation to a worthy cause in the family's name
* Offer to fold their laundry, do their dishes, or mop their floor (trust me they get too tired to do these things some times)
* Send a hand made card to let them know you are thinking about them
* Send the family photos you have taken and your memories so they have a new perspective on their lost family member
* Donate blood to the blood bank
* Prepare activities that can be used in a hospital/doctor's office
* Loan the family movies or books
* And finally, make a donation of any kind where it best helps the family

There are many, many ways that we can help each other. I cannot personally thank all the people that reached out to my family during Joseph's illness; but I can pay it forward and help others in need whether it be my neighbor next door or those suffering far away. We cannot underestimate our own gift for loving our fellow man. We are capable of lifting another's burden and supporting them until they are stronger.

I know. It happened to me.

If you have other ways that you have been helped, or have suggestions for others, will you please post them in your comments? I would love to know how I can best help another.

11 comments:

  1. While I haven't gone through anything like the magnitude of losing a child, I have had some very difficult issues with my own health.

    The one thing I'd add here, is if you want to help, come up with something specific, either on your list or something else. Don't call the person and say, "Is there anything I can do?" because, if they're like me, they'll say they're fine, they don't want to impose, etc.

    The people that called me and said, "I'm coming to get your kids" or "I'm bringing you dinner every Tuesday night until things are better" or showed up at my doorstep and said, "I have 10 minutes" and then proceeded to clean as much as they could are the ones that I let serve me, because they gave me no choice. :)

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  2. Beautiful entry!
    When I was 19 I lost my boyfriend through an accident. I wasn´t much of a talker and when people asked me how I was doing I said fine....but I was far from fine. 99% of these people took my answer with relief so they could talk about something else. 1 person wasn´t fooled and said : no, how are you REALLY doing? She kept talking to me untill I started crying and crying. This was so what I needed. We tend to say fine, because we do not want to burden someone else with our grief but sometimes we just have cry so my advice is to really listen and ask more, don't go for the just fine answer.

    Second thing is that you do not stop asking after 3 or 5 months how that person is doing. Most of the grieving is done in the first year or more. Sending cards or a letter after 6 months or 8 months still means so much, maybe even more than it did in the beginning. let them know that they are not alone in this.

    Last one. keep talking about the person that has gone to the other side. Keep their memory alive.

    corinnexxx

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  3. Prayers are always appreciated too. Its a simple thing to do. I firmly believe in the power of prayer.
    Sometimes our prayers aren't answered the way we want them too, but there is peaceful feeling knowing that others are praying earnestly for us.

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  4. One of the best things that helped our neighbors as they went through some difficult times was setting up a dinner schedule for them. We got together with other neighbors and set up a schedule of who would make dinner every single night for 3 weeks and took it over to them. They were stunned and have told me time and time again that it was one of the best things we could do. It was so simple but it allowed them to have plans every night and just one less thing to worry about. It also helped so that they weren't inundated with offers - they could just just tell people to get in touch with me and I would add them to the schedule.

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  5. Dear Jen and Family

    My name is Jodie im from the Gold Coast Australia and i just recently came across your beautiful LO in scrapbooks etc called Hero. After i read the editors note about Joey's passing, my heart broke for you and your family and i hope you dont mind but i really felt it in my heart to post a comment from myself and my sister in law, just to let you know how much of an amazing courages woman we both think you are you have inspired us both and you and your husband and family are in our hearts, thoughts and prayers.

    Love Jodie and Tara
    xx

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  6. Thank you, Jen, and everyone who has posted comments here with helpful hints about how to help in a time of crisis. Sometimes I have wondered, "should I call and express my condolences, or would they rather not be bothered by calls and visits and the traditional bringing of food?" It can be really awful to want to help but not have any light-bulb moments about what to do! So I am printing out these suggestions and putting them on the fridge for the next occasion when someone needs a little sympathy or love. Some of the ideas are simply brilliant!

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  7. Thank you for reminding us of all the things we can do to help others. When my husband had a sudden and near fatal heart attack at 37 while I was pregnant with our 6th child, we were blessed in so many ways with help from others. I will keep your ideas handy for the next time I am seeking to help another.

    Can I add one? Make a batch of homemade thank you notes and give them to the family complete with stamps. It makes it so much easier for them to send a quick note to someone they need to thank.

    Or give stamps in lieu of flowers or a donation after a funeral. I know that my MIL did that for my mom after my father passed. It was one less thing we had to go out for when it came to doing all the things we needed to do after the funeral was over.

    Jen - I think of you and your family often. I so enjoy seeing your layouts in books. I have several coming up to scraplift. May God bless...

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  8. Yes! Thank you Jen for this important and touching list and insights. I too lost a daughter and have lived through tragic circumstances and I can attest to what you write here.
    The thoughts, the cards, the phonecalls and all the 'helps' make so much difference in the day-to-day struggles. People often have no idea how much it really DOES mean when they seek to help 'carry or lift our burdens' of grief and sorrow and heartache.
    I found the littlest things had so much meaning...the meals, the giftcards for icecream and haircuts and things that 'had nothing to do with our pain' took on new meaning.
    I remember those times when people called before they visited at the hospital...and asked what I needed or wanted them to bring. Things like toothbrush and mints and fresh {SOFT!} kleenexes and hand-held Yahtzee games and items that the hospital didn't have for us- they meant the world to me in such a dark time.
    It's now been 6 years since my daughter died, and STILL, sometimes even moreso, it is those who send cards, emails or call on tough days- like Teagan's birthday or the day of our tragedy or even mention of her at Christmas- is what touches me most.
    Donations given in her name are reminders that her life still matters, still touches others, and still impacts our world...and they ease my sorrow and bring a sense of comfort, hope and peace.
    SO, thank you for sharing here...using your pain, your unique perspective- to guide others to use their lives and gifts in new and special ways. Joey's spirit and memory is honored by your grace as you continue to walk the journey of grief. What a blessing to know that your sorrow can be turned into something beautiful- a gift to share with those who may not fully understand.
    My prayers are with you, again today. All my best~ Jody

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  9. Thank you for this list, Jen.

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  10. My healthy mom passed away suddenly, and it was a rough time for my family. I inherited my father and my grandma that my mom took care of. Her best friend paid a lady to come and clean my house for an entire day. At first it made me nervous to have a "stranger" in my home, but MAN, it was awesome when she got done. She took the knobs off the stove and moved the Fridge! I use her to this day, and it makes a big impact on our family to have her there twice a month. It was a very kind and thoughtful gift to have her come help me keep my home in order during such a time of chaos and transition.

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  11. Wow! Such great ideas! I will try these. thanks for sharing. I would also suggest eye contact. The word "fine" might get by you, but if you are searching their eyes you can TELL that things aren't alright. So many times people have broken down in tears just from me looking into their eyes empathetically and really WANTING to know if they were OK. I loved a sentence I heard from Dr. Pat in L.A. (radio show) "I understand completely. You have every right to feel that way." and then add on your question or your comments. It validates their feelings and frees them to open up.

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