Let’s face it, no one likes looking down the long, dingy road to recovery, whether it’s tied to an illness, surgery, life change or loss. There are usually times in all of our lives when we would love for something or someone to give us just a little bit of hope that tomorrow may be better than today.
This past year, my husband was in two major bicycle accidents. Yes, TWO! Many might say, “Why do you let him get back on that bike?”
I reply, “Because he loves it and I am not his mother.” It’s snarky, yes, and it allows me to be a bit passive-aggressive about the situation without taking it out on my significant other. So, needless to say, my goal is for him to be comfortable as he makes daily adjustments in his otherwise extremely active life and encourage him to make strides toward healing in every way.
So if there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s that being thoughtful, kind and compassionate is always appropriate. So I’m hoping my experience might inspire other caretakers and on-lookers to jump in and do something.
5 Things You Can Do for Someone Facing Major Challenges …
1. Celebrate the victories.
Kind words and encouragement can go a long way toward someone wanting to do a little bit more each day. Each recovery and recuperation is different. Someone who has experienced loss and is trying to move toward a new normal has a different set of victories — getting out of bed, eating breakfast or talking to someone. You get the picture. Celebrate appropriately and with sensitivity.
2. Help them help themselves.
Let the person you are helping do as much as they can. Dive in if there is any sign of struggle or frustration. But remember, slow does not equal not getting something done, it just equals getting it done more slowly and perhaps in a new way as well. The word “duh” might come to mind, but you’d be surprised how many of us revert to “tying our children’s shoes,” just because it’s faster and more efficient.
3. Spend time, but don’t overdo it.
Visits to someone recuperating are encouraged and helpful. However, if that person needs his or her rest, give them permission to close their eyes or give a quick hug, high five or blow a kiss and show the person some love by leaving. A person experiencing loss may have a different set of time needs. But also be aware of signs that your stay may need to come to an end.
4. Gifts show thoughtfulness.
Handmade cards and gifts are just as great as anything you can buy, so grab some crayons and go for it. Cards, in particular, are wonderful for a person who is grieving. Be cautious of platitudes and sentiments that imply they will “get over it.” Most people don’t want to “get over” the person, situation or animal they’ve lost.
5. Prayer lists.
There is nothing more humbling or comforting than knowing people other than your immediate family and friends are praying for you. Letting someone who has encountered a life change and is struggling know that there are others who would like to cushion him or her in prayer can be life- and attitude-changing. (Do please be subtle in your prayer list details.)
I hope this little list gives you some creative ideas to encourage someone going through a tough time. Sometimes the best thing you can do for someone else is to just be there — which is priceless.
What about you? How have you helped someone in your life overcome a major life challenge?