A smiling woman accepts a bag of food from a man

How Can I Help?

How many times are we asked by well-meaning people what they can do to help? I'm asked so often that unless it's one of my go-to people for assistance, I often don't give specifics any longer.

But not too long ago, a dear friend drafted and posted a blog post with all of the things that her family needed and I thought it was such a good idea.

It can be tough to ask for help

I know, for me, that when I'm in a crisis or there is a lot going on medically, I have a harder time with organization.  Thinking ahead one more day or hour or minute seems way too daunting to even try.

To try and think of all the things that might be helpful at one time or another is just beyond my abilities.

Plus, with the effect on my cognitive functioning (aka chemo brain), I usually forget what I tell one person versus another.

Putting together a helpful list

And so, what this friend did was put together a list when she was feeling better.  She wasn't in a crisis, she wasn't tackling a million little medical details, she had the time and the energy to sit and down and think.

Here's some of the categories she included:

  1. Favorite restaurants.  Many people want to supply meals as that is a typical go-to for someone who is ill.  Having a list of favorite restaurants where people can purchase gift cards to be used as needed is a great way to help without having to be too much in contact with the family you are trying to support. Flexibility is key.
  2. Favorite stores.  Whether it is groceries or gaming time or activities or streaming memberships, everyone has their list of distractions. Giving others the ability to purchase time or credits from a favorite company again allows others to help without burdening the family in need.
  3. Regular appointments. Pre-Covid, many of our appointments allowed for a visitor and having someone by our side during a treatment or appointment is something I'm missing a lot right now.  Keeping a list of those upcoming times when one needs transpiration or a companion is a good way of allowing others with time on their hands to help.
  4. Child activities/care.  For those of us with young children, their activities and care can be daunting as there is no time off.  No matter what is going on or how we feel, our children still need to be occupied and transported.  Having a list of childcare needs or activities such that those who are inclined to help are able to volunteer for one or more school or activity runs is so helpful.
  5. Charities/Projects.  For many of us in advocacy, we have our favorite organizations and projects, things that reflect who we are or the legacy we are aiming to build.  Keeping a list of these options for those people who are looking for charity options at the end of the year for tax purposes or just wanting to honor the person who is ill means that we don't have to regurgitate this information over and over.
  6. Pampering ideas.  Everyone experiences side effects differently and those items that are considered pampering for one person might not hit the spot for everyone.  Keeping a list of those items that just make your day handy to provide to someone who is asking can be a great way of stocking up and allowing someone else to meet your needs.

And now it's your turn ... what would you add to the list?

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