A recent job loss. A long stretch of unemployment. A sudden illness. The loss of a family member. A medical procedure or hospitalization. Whenever people experience such difficulty or loss, we often hear or say:
“If there’s anything we can do to help, please let us know.”
If you’ve heard that from someone, how many times have you actually called that person to ask for help? And if you’ve said that to someone, how many times has that person or family going through a rough time actually reached out to you to ask for some help? It’s kind to offer help. But it’s even better to actually help. So, next time, instead of saying “If there’s anything we can do…” why not actually do one of these things with your spouse or children?
“We have some groceries (or home-cooked food) we’d like to bring over…when would be a good time?” Just grabbing some staple items like milk, produce, bread, or lunch meat on your next grocery run can boost someone who might lack the time or resources to get groceries. Making a little extra of that next dinner or dessert is a great way to share something special with others as well.
2. Gift Cards.
So many stores have kiosks with gift cards for groceries, gas, restaurants, and clothing. Grab one for someone who might need some encouragement or help. And they don’t have to know it’s from you. Make it anonymous by mailing it or slipping it under their door.
3. Tag-On Errands.
“I’m running by the store today. What can I pick up for you? And when would be a good time to bring it by?” This is often a really practical and low-pressure offer, particularly if someone needs a prescription picked up, or sees that the milk or bread is gone. It also lets them know you are willing to go out of your way to help if they have a need at another time.
4. Personal (but Brief) Visit.
“We’d like to stop by for a few minutes to say hello…is that okay? And when would be a good time?” It’s easy to remain distant from people who are struggling through a hard time. When you don’t know what to say, or how to say something helpful, you may be tempted to say or do nothing. But your willingness to stop by, even if turned down, tells them that you care. And if you are welcomed for a brief visit, the best thing to do is to listen.
What other alternatives to simply saying “If there’s anything I can do…” do you have? Please share your comments below so your ideas can inspire others as well!