Thought that I had pretty much covered how to help when someone is in need, but I’ve recently received inquiries that made me realize that a “how to help when you don’t live nearby” would be useful.
While there are many practical ways to help, outlined in How to Respond When You Learn That Someone is Ill or Injured there are some additional things to consider doing since you aren’t going to be bringing over meals or driving the children’s car pool.
• Send gift cards not only to the family, but also consider sending a gas card to the person(s) doing a lot of the driving. A simple “thinking of you” type message, along with a gift card, can make a big difference for someone.
• Do things for the direct caregivers, such as gift certificates for massage, afternoon at the spa, maid services etc.
• Flowers and plants definitely brighten the room for someone who is making a long recovery. Instead of using an FTD service, look up local florists and nurseries on-line and call to discuss the type of arrangement that would be most appropriate.
• Check out Unique Gifts for Hospital Patients for other ideas.
• If you aren’t in a position to send something, ask if they’d like you to research the condition the person is dealing with and forward relevant information. Using websites like Medline Plus; MayoClinic Diseases and Conditions, as well as a condition specific organization’s site (e.g. American Diabetes Association) provides current treatment information, the latest research, links to clinical trials etc. Contacting the local chapter of the condition specific organization can help you locate peer advocates, support groups and even if they offer some special services (e.g. chore help) that could be of benefit.
• Send supportive messages: When You Can’t Be With Them: Messages that make a difference
• Give them a place to vent. If it’s appropriate, call and let those affected talk about their frustrations, discuss their fears in a non judgmental manner.
• Organize friends and family to help, particularly around raising money that’s needed. Yes Go Fund Me sites are useful, but remember a portion of those funds go to the company and not to the person in need. Check out How to Fund raise When Someone is in Need of Specialized Care
• If you can do it, arrange time to visit, even if it’s just for a day or a weekend.