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Top Ten (ways to love someone in a crisis)

June 22, 2010

Ever wonder what you can do in a time of a friends crisis? My friend Leah posted this on her blog right after a friend started a crisis.

In Leah’s words:

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Just over two years ago, my 8-year-old-niece was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.  There are no words for how that feels, so I won’t even try to write it here.  I will, however, share 10 ways you can love a family, a person, or a community in crisis.

  1. Show up. Unless they’ve said they don’t want people there, it’s okay to show up.  Visit them at the hospital, go to the memorial service, and by all means, attend the fundraising dinner hosted at Chic-Fil-A. (But DO call ahead to be sure it’s a good time if you’re going to the hospital.)
  2. Leave.  Unless they ask you to stay for a while longer, go ahead and leave.  Once you know they’ve felt loved and visited and cared for, go home.  They probably need a break.
  3. Cook a Dinner. This one is obvious, but probably underestimated how appreciated it really is!
  4. Send a restaurant gift card. If  the family has to go to and from the hospital a lot, it’s hard to cook and the hospital food get’s old quick. Eating out is expensive, so this is an easy way to give a really useful $25.
  5. Send a letter or care package. Especially when it comes to people fighting a long fight.  It’s normal to get showered with love and cards and balloons and gifts the first few weeks…. years later it still matters.  It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just thoughtful.
  6. Go ahead and call. I know, everyone thinks, “I shouldn’t call.. they’re so busy” and really, they probably are.  But it’s okay to leave a message, and say, “you don’t need to call me back unless you want to.. I just wanted you to know I am thinking of you or praying for you.”
  7. Take their kids. If it’s a family and there are other children, pick them up and take them to your house or to do something fun.  Siblings are often stuck going to doctor’s appointments and hanging out in hospitals.  They need a break too, but it’s almost impossible for a parent give them one when they’re taking themself or their child to chemo, or therapy, or for another consult.
  8. Be Available. Call and ask how you can help that week.  Watch a younger sibling while someone has a doctor’s appointment, pick up another child from sports practice, run to the grocery store for the parents, or go get their car’s oil changed.   If you can, offer to do something with consistency so that the family knows when they have help… then they can schedule appointments around it which alleviates a lot of stress.
  9. Educate your family. If you’re a parent and your child is friends with a child who has had a crisis, teach your child how to deal with that.  Teach them how to be that person’s friend, that no matter how their outward appearance has been altered by treatments and surgeries, they’re still the same person on the inside and they desperately want to play and be included in “normal” life again.
  10. Send a Starbucks gift card. You can rarely go wrong with coffee.  And, if they aren’t coffee drinkers…their favorite nurse might be.

I am easily overwhelmed by all the sadness I see around me.  I’m more overwhelmed now that I have ever been before, and often think my heart doesn’t have the capacity to read or pray or hear about one more person in crisis.

I can however, send a card, or make a care package, or babysit.

I couldn’t write this list without my family having been on the receiving end of hundreds of people who did these very things for us.  For those of you who live this list by your actions towards Gracie and the Kellys – thank you.

Two years later, Gracie is living well.  If you want to learn more about Gracie and her beautiful family, here is her story.

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In the last 6 months there have been more then enough events that have happened in my church family.

This sentence sums up the last 9 months for me.

I am easily overwhelmed  by all the sadness I see around me.  I’m more overwhelmed now that I have ever been before, and often think my heart doesn’t have the capacity to read or pray or hear about one more person in crisis.

Here are a few more ideas that I have either seen done or organized myself:

Set up a Fundraiser – sometimes there are sudden expenses that creep up and it is such a daunting task after you’ve lost a loved one to try to function let alone deal with all the details. Go to the local bank and open a savings or checking account. Create a Paypal account so that people can give online it they so choose.

Create a Prayer group on Facebook – prayer is such a powerful thing.

Backed up Household Chores – offer to clean, do laundry, cut the grass. The littlest things can help in so many ways.

The next time you have a crisis touch your life I pray that you find comfort in the arms of Jesus, your church and are able to help in any way you can!

Blessings to you!

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