I’ve been away from my blog for a while, visiting far too many hospitals, doctors, and staying in touch with far too many truly sick friends in the past months. But while it can be tough hanging out in cancer clinics, heart centers, or pediatric hospitals, there’s no place you’d rather be when your loved one is ill.
In the last ten years or so Dan and I have spent a lot of time inside hospital rooms. Not too long ago, I could barely feed myself, and I couldn’t walk or stand on my own. I know how hard it can be to ask for help and to feel dependent on others when you’re ill. But I also know how important it is to allow the Body of Christ to operate as it was intended, to allow people to pour themselves out in love for one another as Christ did. When we’re in need of help, either as caregivers or as care receivers, we need to learn how to say yes and receive grace-filled care.
Accepting care from others allows us to focus on gaining strength and keeping “the main thing the main thing.” And accepting care from others allows them to participate in our experience of suffering, even if in a small way.
One way we can learn to ask for help is to be prepared with specific requests that encompass our daily needs: home maintenance, car maintenance and repair, child care, daily errands, housekeeping, etc. I suggest preparing a specific list and keeping it handy, perhaps even in a 3 x 5 card format with brief, specific instructions, so that the cards can be handed out at a moment’s notice. You might want to consider including some of the following:
- Vehicle maintenance and repair: oil change, car detail, weekly car wash, tune-up, fluid and windshield wiper check, new tires
- Household maintenance and repair: gutter cleaning, window washing, power washing exterior, furnace check
- Lawn and garden: regular lawn mowing or snow removal, leaf raking, gardening, weeding
- Errands: delivering kids to lessons, sports, church events, library; walking the dog; dry cleaning pick-up; Post Office stops
- Recreation opportunities: movie or theater tickets, restaurant gift certificates, babysitting, getaway opportunities
- Celebrations: party planning or shopping or hosting celebrations for the family’s children in stressful times
- Meal preparation: list food allergies or specific foods your family members cannot eat; you may want to ask friends to deliver food in disposable containers that don’t need to be returned.
If you know someone going through a difficult time, you may want to ask them specific questions.
“I know you’ve probably put a few thousand miles on that car of yours driving back and forth to the hospital this year. Would it be helpful if a few of us upgraded your tires or put together some gas cards to help you out?” Or perhaps, “I couldn’t help but notice that Emily dropped out of cheerleading. Since my daughter’s on the squad, I’d be glad to make sure Emily gets picked up and delivered to practices. I’d love to encourage her when you can’t be at the games, if that would help at all. You can let me know if you think it would help.”