What can I do to help?
It’s a question you have probably been asked more times than you can count. People who care about you want to do SOMETHING to help. Not just for you but for themselves. They are at a loss of what they can do or say that might bring you comfort so they will search for anything to feel they have made a valuable contribution. I know it’s hard but don’t be annoyed by it. They ask because they care.
Let them help, it’s not just for you. Everyone wants to help when someone is left to grieve a loss. We all want to fix each other and make everything okay but most people don’t realize that “okay” for us might be a long way off. They will ask what they can do to help because they truly care. I think we owe it to them to give them something to do, even if it’s as simple as walking the dog, watering plants or some other mundane task you have forgotten even needs attention. It gives them a sense of purpose and helps you at the same time. If they feel they have helped you in some way perhaps they will stop asking what they can do, it’s a win for you and them.
I have a very good friend who spent the night at with me the day that Mike died, I’m not sure I could have made it through without her. The next morning my house was filled with caring people wanting to help. Someone came through the door and gave me a hug asking “What can I do to help?”. I gave her a blank look and said, “I have no idea”. My friend pulled me aside and said that she would take care of the people wanting to “help”. She took over giving people tasks. Someone took out the trash, one was feeding the cat, one was finding someone to mow the 3 acres of yard, some were calling canceling appointments I had coming up while others were labeling and packaging the growing pile of food that people had brought. I was so grateful she was there to orchestrate things! My brain wasn’t functioning enough to formulate a simple answer to the question of what people could do to help, thank god for she knew exactly what I needed at that time. If you are support staff, this is a perfect way to contribute to the cause!
This will carry on for at least a few weeks or even months, people asking what they can do to help or saying “Let me know if you need anything”. Please learn to take people up on their offer of help. Don’t feel like you are imposing, they offered!! Again, it goes back to letting people do what they can for you not just to help you but to feel like they have made a contribution to your healing process.
Mike took care of the farm and all the maintenance of the outside of the house and buildings plus did the majority of the mowing. I knew my husband did a LOT but I’m not sure I realized the extent of what he did until I was tasked with taking care of all of it myself. I was working full time , trying to manage the household chores, maintenance on the grounds and the farming operation. It was overwhelming and I had no choice but to accept peoples help ….. to a point.
Initially I thought I could do it all. I’m an intelligent capable woman, I don’t need to rely on anyone else! I was so wrong. I tried, I really tried but at some point I had to put my ego aside and let people in who offered their services.
As I finally let others in to fix things that needed done, take care of the acreage and help me with the farm I gave myself the opportunity to breath. I was internalizing all of the pressure that had been placed on my shoulders. That was taking a toll on me, physically and emotionally. I had to realize I was not a failure for allowing others in to share my burden. They all knew and loved Mike too, this was their way of helping me and honoring their love for him.
I thought some of the things I needed help with that were too big to ask someone to do out of the kindness of their heart so I always offered to pay them for their time. Not one person would allow that to happen. They actually thanked me for letting them help, that was not what I expected. I should have know better, the group of friends we had were definitely something special. I hope and pray you have those kind of people in your life.
The world is full of loving kind souls, let them in.