I was squirming in my seat at hearing something that I myself had been guilty of.
I was sitting in on a charity event organised by the UCKG HelpCentre on how best to help and support those who had been diagnosed with cancer. Although the speaker was referring to cancer sufferers her advice can be applied anywhere.
She said, "Cancer patients need all the support they can get but sometimes are embarrassed to ask. They feel very tired, down, overwhelmed at times... Sometimes you say, 'Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.' You feel good about yourself, thinking, 'Well, at least I offered. If she needs me, she'll call'. Well actually, she probably badly needs your help but doesn't want to be a burden. If you REALLY want to help, you need to be specific. So instead, you can say something like: 'Right, tomorrow I want you to get out all your ironing and I'm going to be round and 10am to do it for you.' Or 'Take a rest this afternoon and I'm going to pick up your kids from school and fix them dinner.' And be generous with your time. You have no idea what a difference you will be making in that person's life."
Well I guess we've all done it. Offer our help just to clear our conscience but then don't follow through with any action... I remember once when my sister (who lived alone) phoned me to tell me she'd broken her toe. She was giggling as she told me how she'd done it and I didn't really click that she couldn't move around, so the conversation finished with me saying those famous words, "Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you" but at the same time wondering, 'If she calls, how on earth am I going to help? I'm so busy!" She went a bit quiet as we said our goodbyes. A couple of hours later, I came to my senses and called her back and said: 'Right. Get a few of your things together. - I'm going to pick you up and bring you home with me so I can look after you for a few days until you’re better.' She was so grateful and even joked with me about our first phone call saying, 'I thought you didn’t love me anymore.'
We really do need to be more sensitive to the people around us and not only think about our ourselves. Perhaps you have a friend or family member close to you that is really going through a hard time and needs you but can’t bring herself to ask you. Take the focus off yourself and start looking for opportunities to help. No matter how busy you are, there is always something you can do. Here are some ideas:
- If someone is sick, visit her and cook for her and pick up her prescription for her
- If someone is overloaded with work, pop round and do her ironing or housework
- If someone can’t afford to eat properly for some reason, buy some groceries for her
- If someone is feeling sad about something, pick her up and take her out for a coffee or for a meal
- If someone is moving house, help her to pack
- If someone has just arrived from abroad, show her around, show her the best places to shop for groceries, etc.
- If someone…