In 1970, Diana Ross recorded Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand). It was long before that beautiful song was written and recorded, people all over the world were there for each other in good times and through seasons of their lives, that weren’t so great.
There will come a time in all our lives when loved ones, neighbors and friends need us. The question is how to go about helping others – whether they are simply under the weather or experiencing a more serious illness. What can we do? I’m hoping my personal experience and insight might provide answers for those who might be going through something similar.
When my mother became ill, it was challenging, as you can imagine. There’s a quiet pain you experience when you see someone you love struggling physically and emotionally. It’s a challenge to greet each day with an optimistic attitude instead of succumbing to fear and negativity. There’s a level of frustration because declining health is not something in our control.
My mother was always independent. I witnessed how difficult it was to ask for help, actually from both of us. My mother was homebound. She had relinquished, voluntarily, her driver’s license which was huge in itself. She didn’t want to run the risk of hurting someone else. If she needed to go somewhere, I would drive her and did anything to help make things easier so her day-to-day life was good. If there was anything she wanted or needed, I would get it and bring it home. She always did enjoy a little ice cream and chocolate syrup after dinner.
When and if the time comes and someone offers to help you, please let them. It’s not always easy to accept a generous offer for help, granted, but it’s a wonderful feeling when you do. The odds are pretty good that in each of our lives we will need help. Seventy percent of people will care for a family member or friend in their lifetime according to the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC).
When you know or find out someone is sick, it’s nice when we can touch base with them. It makes a heart feel good to receive a call, text or message asking them how they are and if they might need anything. Whether they need something or not, let them know you’re there for them. Many times, we aren’t sure what to say or don’t want to say the wrong thing. You’re their friend, you’ll know what to say. Be proactive and let them know you care about them.
It’s summer and maybe their grass needs cutting, or if helping them with laundry or dishes would ease their mind, you could arrange a time to come over to accomplish things that would make a difference in their life. Depending on the circumstances, they might need a shoulder to lean on or a friend willing to listen that will take them through this season of their life. Make the call or stop by. Don’t ghost them. It’s hurtful, and right now they need to feel loved and included.
Sleep is important to healing. If you phone or text and there’s no response right away, be patient. They could be resting or sleeping. Your message will get seen and they’ll know you’re reaching out and putting forth an effort. You could always ask if there’s anywhere they’d like to go. They might appreciate a ride to a doctor’s appointment and you could offer to take them there, especially if they can’t drive. I know not being able to get to the store is terrible.
Yes, there are service deliveries such as Instacart and some grocery stores deliver, but it would be helpful to bring a few groceries to make some soup with and delivering it is always a winner. I can’t tell you how many times I haven’t felt like cooking when sick. They might enjoy some company and you might take over a good stock, vegetables and chicken or their favorite ingredients for a healthy recipe to make for them. Balloons are fun too! If it’s in the budget, why not? Balloons lift spirits and there’s a wide variety of fun balloons to choose from.
There are plenty of ways to lighten and brighten someone’s spirit. Listening and being a good friend is one of the best ways because although they’re sick, they need interaction from loved ones and friends. They need your help. Picking up groceries, flowers or toiletries that might be needed is definitely thoughtful and considerate. If your friend has children, taking the little ones to school or picking them up is very helpful. Parents have so much going on – so when they have a trusted friend to assist, it enables them to get the rest they need to get well and heal.
Years ago, I knew a lady who was going through treatment for cancer and after the treatment, she would become nauseated and could not rest. At that time, I was interested in aromatherapy and how scents affect us. When I researched it, I read about lavender being a relaxing scent. I found a wonderful lavender scent in linen spray and I introduced it to her. It worked! She would lightly dust her pillow and bedding with it and it made a real difference in how she felt after treatments, along with enabling her to sleep.
As I reminisce about circumstances and people I’ve known, I’ve come to the realization I don’t believe in coincidence. I truly believe that every person we meet in this life is there for a reason. When we reach out to those friends and loved ones, especially when they are ill or not feeling well, it makes a difference. In helping others, you make a difference in their life – in sickness and in health. You make their life better just by being there for them and being a true friend.