Sometimes life is overwhelming. Unexpected losses, grief, or ongoing pain can set a family reeling. How can extended family and friends offer practical support during times of distress?
I admit up front that these ideas are not mine. They are ways our support network has already blessed our family in the past weeks and months, during our hard season. Many of the items on this list happened several times over.
- Give fresh flowers
- Show up
Nothing ever beats presence.
- Bring a casserole to church
- Write an encouraging note
- Order dinner delivery to their home
- Pray for them publicly and privately
- Give health supports: massages, supplements, oils for healing
- Help with financial burdens
- Make a mini sunshine box
My sister gave me a gift bag with a small item to open each day in my most difficult week… a candle, a snack, something to wear, something to color.
- Tuck an anonymous gift card in their mailbox
- Ask good questions – How are you holding up?
I’ve been asked this question many times by close friends, and it has become dear to me. It permits struggle, but does not assume or brush off. It requires a real answer, not including I’m fine.
- Bake cookies, or share an extra dessert
- Be willing to talk and cry on the phone late at night when needed
- Offer your living room and a listening ear
- Give a good book to read
A book given frees the recipient from any pressure to read and respond. But a book loaned is also a treat.
- Let them give back to you, or alongside you
Obviously, caution is needed – but if all the giving goes one way, the family can flounder longer. Ask for help when you need it, or prayer for your own needs, or partnership in your service projects. Let them say no if they’re not ready.
- Reach out with a text message, and forgive them when they don’t respond to it for a long time
- Offer to take their place in a mundane task or a community duty
- Share what the Lord is telling you about them
I’ve been blessed many times by friends offering a word from the Lord. It’s a relief to know he’s talking about me, when I can’t always hear him talk to me. Best still is when three different friends share the same word. Then I know it was Him.
- Drop an unexpected gift in the mail, on their doorstep, or onto The Underground Mennonite Railroad
Homemade soaps, chocolate, toys for my kids, flower bulbs for spring. Wow.
- Give “rejuvenate money” – to be used for personal or family refreshment
- Cut a mini evergreen bouquet out of your backyard and say I’m thinking of you
- Offer a hug
- Meet up in town for lunch or coffee
We are so blessed. There is just nothing else to it.
Jesus, thank you for your people.
What ideas would you add, for the sake of other readers who may use this list as a reference?