My knee-jerk reaction has always been, “Hm. That’s an odd thing to say”.
Of course you CAN help!
The question is: will you?
1. Bring meals to the family and/or organize a meal sign-up for your group/church/community so they won’t have to worry about one more thing this week.
2. Offer to pray with them, or write texts/emails/letters of encouragement.
3. Parents often feel isolated during a family crisis. Will you continually check on the family in person to see that EVERYONE is functioning?
4. Offer to run errands for them. During a crisis, parents who are normally on top of their game are known to go into ineffective mode. Running simple errands like returning library books, dropping off/picking up dry cleaning, running carpool – is a HUGE help.
5. Offer to babysit their other children (if any) so they can present a united front at the hospital, courthouse, etc.
6. Sit with them at the hospital (or other potentially uncomfortable location), so they don’t continue to feel isolated and adrift.
7. Check in more than once a week, to make sure Mom/Dad/Both are going okay emotionally. (and if not, provide as much emotional support as you can)
8. Offer to start a caringbridge.com support page, to wrap them in as much team support as possible.
9. Gently, very gently, coax mom out of the house. If she’s got other children, she’s likely using her daily work as a means of keeping her sanity above water. Assure her that it is okay if she steps out for a latte, then make sure to get her laughing while she’s out!
These are the things that have been a help and a healing experience for us during the midst of our trials. Knowing deep down into your core that there are people out there who care about you and genuinely want to help do immeasurably more than a flippant “Aw, that sucks” or “Gee, wish I could give you advice” (both of which have happened to us by well-meaning folks).
“You never know how far reaching something you say or do today will be in the future” ~ B.J. Palmer