Since we went through our tough time last year when we lost my grandmother, father and brother within 5 months of each other, I have been very aware of how shite life can feel at times for people.
Harsh things happen to people a lot. All the time in fact. But life goes on.
The way it feels when someone you love is no longer there is indescribable. The only thing you can think about is them and how terribly sad you feel. Grief is all – encompassing. But you have to carry on. At times it feels cruel and unfair that the rest of the world stays exactly the same. You wonder how people can carry on as if nothing has happened. Life as you know it will never be the same again. Don’t people know that?
My personal experience of a life-changing ‘tough time’ is that of loss and grief but tough times come in many forms.
Being diagnosed with cancer or another illness, going through a divorce, discovering your baby has special needs, losing a business you’ve put your heart and soul into creating, having depression…. there are many ways that life can batter you.
These are all tragic and dramatic circumstances but moving house, changing jobs or having a new baby can be stressful and a game changer with many finding it really difficult to cope. Sometimes, people having a hard day or week might need a bit of love and TLC to help them get through.
It can be extremely difficult to know what to say or do when someone you know and care about is going through a tough time. You may feel helpless and uncomfortable around them and this might mean you avoid them. You may mean to do something but not know what to do so end up doing nothing.
This is a natural feeling but there are things you can do to help and that might just change the world of the person you care about.
I have been thinking about writing this post for months and a blogger I love reading actually wrote an excellent one on exactly this topic while I was pondering. It is fantastically full of ideas of How to help when someone is in need.
She quotes a book,Love Does by Bob Goff:
‘’We are the means, the method, the object and the delivery vehicles….God usually chooses ordinary people like us to get things done…
….it becomes clear that we need to stop plotting the course and instead land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the ‘do’ part of faith.
That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it.
Simply put: love does.’’
That is the key: love actually does things.
So, if you are thinking you would really like to do something to show someone you care about them and acknowledge that they are having a tough time, here are five things you can do.
1) Provide a meal
Eating and preparing healthy food can be the last thing that someone feels like doing when they are stressed but the pressure to do it is huge! Especially if there are children to feed. You’d be amazed how well received and thoughtful this one is. Just one meal that they don’t have to worry about is a huge relief.
This can be something you make at home (double up on a dinner you’re making for your own family), a bag of shop bought, easy to assemble goodies such as chicken, salad and a fresh loaf of bread or even a voucher or money towards a takeaway if you are unsure what to get.
2) Send a card or note
It means a lot to know that people care enough to get in touch. If there is a bereavement and you know the person who has died, sharing a memory you have of that person can bring tremendous comfort.
Cards or texts on special or important days such as birthdays or test result days etc are a lovely gesture to show you are thinking of the person. Random text messages in the middle of the week are also wonderful to receive!
3) Entertain the kids
If there are kids involved, offer to spend a couple of hours looking after them. For myself, I find it difficult to say yes to this one if asked as I don’t feel I can expect this of anybody – I find looking after my own kids hard work!
However, if you turned up with some fun stuff like bubbles, drawing books, the promise of a visit to the park or some tasty snacks and announce that you’re staying to play whatever I say, I imagine most parents would be eternally grateful!
These few hours will give the person going through whatever situation it may be, some much needed personal space to deal with whatever needs dealing with the most. Making phone calls, cleaning, having a shower or possibly a sleep will probably all be on that list! It may be the first time they have had to themselves since whatever happened, has happened, so a good cry or walk in the fresh air to think may be helpful.
Whatever they do, knowing the children are looked after and having a good time will be invaluable.
4) Just be there
You may not know what to say or feel you don’t want to upset the person by bringing up the subject but rest assured, it is all the person is thinking about. Acknowledging this by saying something along the lines of ‘I’m sorry about ………. If you want to talk, please know I’m here and want to listen.’’
Take them out for lunch or a walk and just go with the flow. Spending time with people who care is therapeutic even if they struggle to talk about what has happened.
5) Show you care long after the event
The first few days and weeks after something happens can be a blur. There is so much going on. It’s after that initial flurry of activity has died down that people really need support.
What happened will always be there.
The devastation of losing someone, the stress of coping with a child, the struggle to find another job, or the ongoing visits to doctors and hospitals for treatment can be relentless. It can also be a lonely, difficult time so having someone show that they care in little ways, and knowing that they remember, is a welcome and much needed tonic.
These are just five things you CAN DO when someone is having a tough time.
There are many, many more suggestions in this great post so please do have a look for inspiration.
Whatever you do, if you feel like you should be doing something, DO it! Be somebody’s rainbow!
You will never know how much it means to the person to know that you love and care about them enough to show it.