When you find out that someone you know is having a particularly difficult situation or perhaps the birth of a new baby, you might offer up help in a very general way. This often goes something like, “Let me know if I can do anything for you.” In my experience, this usually is met with polite agreement, but then no requests for help.
If you have a friend or family member who could use some extra help during a difficult or life changing experience, I have found that it is best to be very specific in your offers for help.
Here are some specific ways to offer help to a friend:
Take Them a Meal
In our very close homeschooling group, we always set up at least a week worth of meals for new Moms. We also frequently set up meals for group members who have had losses, surgeries, job losses, or other difficult times. I was recently on the receiving end of these meals after a gallbladder removal surgery, and it was just wonderful.
If you are offering up a meal on your own, it is often better to ask, “When can I bring you a meal?” instead of “Can I bring you a meal?”
If you are organizing meals within a group, I would recommend a service like Meal Train. Make sure to make note of the family’s preferences, allergies, and any other pertinent information. It is a great idea to ask each person signing up to take a meal to share what they plan on taking to the family to minimize duplicates.
Run Errands for Them
When things are hectic at your friend’s home from something like a new baby or a surgery, it can be difficult to find time to run out to the store for bread and milk or to the pharmacy for a prescription. Before you head out to town one day, give your friend a call and ask if there is anything that you can pick up for them.
In particular, you might even mention the places that you already plan to go anyway so your friend will feel that they aren’t being burdensome when they take you up on your offer.
Offer to Help Around Their House
This is usually an area where people might be a little more likely to turn down help. If this is how you feel called to help, then it can definitely be a help to a busy family. Help might look like doing laundry, cleaning, or even mowing the lawn.
One way someone helped at our home after my recent surgery was when my husband had to take our daughter to her ballet class on the evening of the day of my surgery. Because I had an outpatient surgery, this meant I was at home and we needed to have help by having someone just come and sit with me (and our other children) to help when I needed it.
Entertain Their Children
If your friend has children, it can be very likely that there is a time when it would be especially helpful to take their children away for a playdate, out to a movie, or just a trip to the park. That time could mean time for a nap for a mother with a new baby, the ability to go to a meeting at a funeral home without the kids after the loss of a grandparent, or even saving the kids from having to sit in a waiting room during a parent’s surgery.
Offer Your Thoughts and Prayers
If you can’t offer help in any other way, just be sure to let you friend know that you’re thinking or praying for them. It can be a comfort just to know that they are supported by others in spirit.
In what ways have you helped friends during difficult times?