I Need Your Brains On This One

A dear friend of ours is in the hospital. She is not ill, her father had a stroke (or two) and she is staying with him. There is so much involved here that it is exhausting to think about going into in this note…suffice it to say that it is virtually impossible to be of any help to her or her family whatsoever.

We work with her too, so we have 21 people asking us daily what they can do. Tina’s mom is friends with the family as well, so there are requests to support from that angle too. And we are not even in contact with all their friends…the church…the community…you get the idea.

The thing is, I know she and her mom need stuff. There is so much stuff weighing on them right now that they just cannot figure out how to offload any of it. Really what they need is an “assistance coordinator.” Someone to come in and figure out what they need and coordinate it.

“Looks like you need someone to hang out with your daughter for an hour and a half once a day while you commute back and forth from the hospital.”

“Looks like you need someone to wait in line for you to turn in those forms.”

“Looks like maybe you need someone to make up a basket of easy-to-eat foods in a basket that you can just pick up and swallow whole for times when the nurses come in and you can have a 3 second break.”

“How about someone does your laundry?”

Things like that. Because organizing and writing down a list of things people can help you with is daunting…and then you have to ask. Why has no one ever thought of this?

How about you? You got any ideas for me? Everyone out there who has ever been in a situation where you could not begin to imagine how to wrap your head around what you need and ask for it…now’s the time.

What can I do for my friend? What have we not thought of?


2 thoughts on “I Need Your Brains On This One

  1. Such an interesting dilemma. We register for gifts when we get married, have a baby, but there's no place to "register" for help when we have a crisis. And while visiting the hospital can seem like a kind gesture, entertaining someone while they are tending to a sick loved one just adds to the exhaustion. Why isn't there a place where people can post about sick loved ones – status, little victories, requests or offers for help? Like your blog, someplace where your friend could direct well-wisher, and maybe post for a minute or two every day?Or what if there were a local concierge service who offered a percentage of their services pro bono to hospitals?it'd be wonderful if people voluntarily offered themselves up to help, but personally I think most (myself included) are just too wrapped up in their own stuff.Anyway, I'm not being terribly helpful. You're a good friend to be concerned.

  2. I'm lucky to live in a community where friends and neighbors often help each other out. As you say, fielding concerned questions and offers of help can be stressful and exhausting all by itself – what works well is when a close friend takes over that task – keeping everyone up to date (usually via mass email), co-ordinating who's collecting the kids, picking up groceries, making dinner etc…What I've also heard is that specific offers of help are more useful than the more generic "anything I can do?" For example, offering collect Johnny for soccer on Thursday, or to cook a meal and drop it off on Tuesday. Another thought – at JSC they have a scheme to donate personal days to colleagues who need extra time to deal with illness or bereavement – something her work friends could think about?

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