So you think… you want to help… HELP.
What does THAT mean anyways?
Believe it or not, to those of us with chronic needs, it too has become a FOUR letter word.
not always a good one.
shouldn’t help be a wonderful word? shouldn’t help be a blessing?
Well, certainly, one would THINK so.
I used to think so. When I was the one offering it.
Before I was the one receiving it.
But that, was a long, long time ago.
I have learned a LOT about “help”. What it is, and what, it is NOT.
What it pretends to be, and what, it will never be.
What people imagine it is…
So lets get down to buisness people.
If you are reading THIS post
YOU want the facts
YOU clearly WANT to BE helpful.
YOU want BE the “help”.
L Z A O – hmmmm can we make this a NEW word… ZALO?
Zip it, Ask, Listen, Observe… better??? you tell ME!
Sometimes, it is helpful to review what “something” is not,
in order to get a better grasp on what it IS.
It sort of, clears the table so to speak…. so lets start with THIS.
The things “help” is NOT.
Help is NOT doing it YOUR way in someone elses life.
It is not walking into your loved one’s home and folding the towels YOUR way
or putting the utincils in the dishwasher YOUR way
vacumming their floor YOUR way (maybe they are diagonal people… i don’t know … Zip it! no judging)
making them spagetti your way (unless they begged you, because you have the BEST recipe).
It isn’t organizing their bookshelves YOUR way.
Nor is it reorganizing their spice rack YOUR way.
NOPE, it isn’t.
It isn’t buying YOUR favorite brand of baby wipes for their baby. (unless they begged you to)
Helping is NOT rearranging their furniture, or leaving a mess.
Help is not doing what ever you are thinking of doing…. YOUR way.
What it is then, is this.
Help is finding out what another person needs, and meeting their needs THEIR WAY.
Does that make sense?
If you walk into THEIR world, when they are MOST needy, and go to help THEM, and refuse to do any of it in a way that makes them feel THEY still have a say, then they might as well NOT exist. IT’s all YOU. It’s why old people get so mad. People always bossing them about. If I just need HELP making my soup, why would YOU come over and make YOUR soup? Can you see why that would hurt MY feelings? I asked for help doing something in my life, not for you to live my life… This is another reason Chronically ill people get so depressed they stop wanting visitors, it adds to depression.
This is WHY you are reading this post, because YOU don’t want to ADD to the depression in YOUR loved ones life, you want to be a blessing, and a help :).
What does THAT mean?
It means, paying Attention.
(read L Z O A – the part on being OBSERVANT)
does your friend/loved one filter their water? Then when you are visiting, keep the water filtration thing going. go Brita go… 🙂
It means not being afraid to ASK how the dryer works, and when you fold towels, inquire if they fold in thirds of, in halves. It might actually MATTER to them… (perhaps they have OCD, or perhaps they have small cabinets… NOT for you to judge!)
It means if you see two brooms asking which is which, and then grab the correct one and sweep. Don’t just assume, it might stress out your friend. You might leave and they might use “help” as a four letter word, go to the store and buy a whole new broom…. Who knows? ASK!
If your friend is ill, chronically, terminally ill, depressed, what EVER the issue is, don’t be afraid to ASK. What questions do you need to ask…
“Can I bring a meal, or is that too hard because of your dietary needs? does the thought of it stress you out?”
(look at their face, sometimes you can just SEE it contort and lines furrow, clear YES before they can even form an appropriate responce- feel free to rescue them!)
I threw this one in because it is the #1 most tempting thing for people to WANT to help with… so just get it out there… ASK, OBSERVE, ZIP it to see the responce, and Listen with your eyes and with your ears. Sometimes it will be a resounding yes, other times… not so much.
“When was the last time your sheets were changed? Can I change your sheets for you right now, and throw them in the laundry? We could get fresh ones on right away, and get these laundered before I leave, just tell me how your system works.”
Very helpful, little thought of thing. Bed sheets, important to be cleaned regularly, yet very difficult for any ill person to clean themselves. If done regularly, Not gross at all, just hard to GET off that bed, hard to get into a washer, and while wet rather difficult to get into the dryer. Again be sure to do it how they like it. Sheets should always be washed in HOT to kill bedbugs and other germs regardless of some modern “green” trends that say otherwise… Illness is still Illness.
Another helpful thing is dusting. As a chronically ill person, I have FABULOUS dust cloths & wool dusters I purchased from Don Aslett’s the Cleaning Center When I go to a friends house who is needing help, I bring these along with me. I bought some dusters for the children too, and when we are feeling ok, we just walk about dusting.
One thing we have a bit of a passion for in my home is books. It is helpful to me, when people ask where they go, or stack them up neatly for me. I have one friend who talks to me as she helps me put them away. She will ask me about each book and I can sit and chat with her about them, it makes time go so nice and slow, I enjoy it very much, and the room looks so much nicer when we are done.
Dish busters! Never be afraid to HELP with dishes. BE very afraid to attack Baby Bottles and nipples and such, with OUT the asking. Be certain to get the rules on how Mama wants that attacked. Ask about ceramics, read lables, but wash away. If you are unaware if your pal has a stack of towels, it may be worth it to keep a few extra in the car. Again, Help, is just that, HELP. It is recognizing this person has NEEDS. They may not have gotten to the laundry all week, they baby may have spit up a LOT; the bills might be piling up and their just not be any money to buy more kitchen towels JUST when she was planning to get them.
Don’t come expecting helping out to be a breeze…. PLAN for everything that can go wrong, to GO wrong.
I used to have a HELP bag.
In it went THESE items
*Green Spray from Trader Joes
*Dark Chocolate (you JUST never know!)
*One great novel
Sometimes if a friend was really ill, I would imagine reading aloud to them. I never had to… Not yet anyways… HOW did I get the idea? I shall tell you.
I was very very ill some years ago (lyme undiagnosed still) and it was my migraine, the pain was unbearable, and I was going for another MRI. I was terrified of the MRI, so they planned an OPEN MRI, but that just felt like I was in a big waffle iron, and between the migraine and the anxiety and the other pains, and the memory of the one doctor so recently telling me I was imagining all my illness, I really was beside myself. When in walks this lady, she was a volunteer or something at the facility, and she asked if I was ok, as I was shaking, and they still had a few minutes till the test began. I said I was ok, she said she noticed I was shaking, and she was worried for me, as I was not allowed to move, and I began to cry… she said very sweetly that she understood. She asked if she could stay, and read to me. I said yes.
She sat right down that helper, she sat right down and she began a story. She didn’t even begin her story at the beginning. She began it someplace in the middle and just read and read and read. My mind followed her tale, my eyes closed and forgot the massive weight of the waffle iron pressing towards my body… My mind drifted towards this other world, this world where her words, her voice were taking me. She spoke slowly, and rythmically, her tones ebbing and flowing like the tide. She bantered her characters back and forth and back again, and then… as quick as a wink, it was over … and the story that began in the middle ended there abouts as well, because the long, very long MRI was done, and they sent me home.
That woman, she knew what I needed… She Observed. She Ziped it when it was my time to speak, she Asked, and she Listened..
and she acted… she blessed me… I don’t know her name… but she helped me… and I hope where EVER I go, that I always give HELP that same good name she did for me.
and I hope YOU do too.