For the past twelve weeks, I have been sharing my ideas about the kind of help hurting people need. Today I’m going to pull them all together and leave you with one final thought.
Who Exactly are “Hurting People?”
I intentionally left the title of this series very open. (Although you can find many specific examples throughout.) I chose “Hurting People” because, if I had just said “bereaved people” or “terminally ill people” etc… it would be easy enough to skip by these posts thinking they don’t apply to anyone you know.
But the reality is, you DO know someone who needs this. Hurting people look a lot like your best friend, your coworker, your barista, and yourself. No one gets through a life on earth without some amount of hurt and grief.
In an earlier post, I spoke about loss and grief, and how they walk hand-in-hand. I really want to emphasize again that grief doesn’t just happen when someone dies.
It happens when relationships die.
It happens when dreams die.
It happens when hope dies.
Wherever there is loss, there is grief, and wherever there is grief, there is an opportunity to reach out in all of the ways I will list below.
What You Can Do
Here is a roundup of 7 things you can do for anyone who is grieving any kind of loss:
- Listen… The Right Way
There is a right and a wrong way to listen. Learn about Active Listening here.
- Tell them that you want to help AND HOW you can help
“Let me know if there’s anything I can do” is overrated. Don’t leave them guessing. Tell them exactly when and how they can rely on you.
- Check in… again and again and again
Pain doesn’t have an expiration date. Stay engaged when other friends fall away.
- Provide Meals
You don’t even have to be a good cook! Check out these ideas.
- Help Clean
Grief is messy. You can help.
- Help with Errands and Chores
Make some room in your life to carry another person’s burden.
- Help with Childcare
It may not be as scary as you think! Check out these suggestions.
It certainly isn’t possible to do all of these things for every single person in your life–you would need to clone yourself! So above all the others, I would rank Active Listening as #1.
You can’t be all things to all people, but you can give everyone in your life the gift of being heard.
Also if you are really listening, you will be able to see which of the other things in the list they need the most. You can focus your energy where it is most needed by filling that gap yourself, or by recruiting other caring family and friends to help.
What You Shouldn’t Do
There are some things that we do, almost unconsciously, to hurting people that are much more hurtful than helpful. As someone who has been on the receiving end of these things time and time again, please stop!
- Stop giving uninformed and uninvited advice
- Stop overwhelming them with unsolicited books and media
- Stop recommending miracle products
- Stop imposing your religious and political agenda
A Final Thought
I wasn’t sure if I had enough material to make this a blog post of its own, but I wanted to point out one more need that you can help with: money.
If you have not had the misfortune to experience this first-hand, you may not realize how expensive it is to be a “hurting person.”
- When you lose a loved one, there are funeral costs, travel costs, and missed work.
- When a marriage breaks up, there is a need for an entire second household. That’s thousands of dollars that most people don’t just have lying around.
- When a health crisis happens, there are countless costs. Even with insurance, there is still time off work, travel to treatments, expensive medications, etc… to pay for.
- When a child is born with Special Needs, it’s the same. Doctors; therapies; special diets consisting of more expensive foods; special schools or day programs that require more travel; and potentially, one parent will need to leave their job to become a full-time caretaker.
For this reason, I wanted to make you aware of the power of two small words: “My Treat.”
No one likes to admit that they are struggling financially. Not being able to “make ends meet” or provide for your kids is an added insult to the injury of being hurt in the first place.
When I was in this situation, I would always say no to every event, every coffee with a friend, every fun thing that came my way. It is possible that some of my friends intended to pay, but I could not take that chance. Even $5 or $10 was too much to risk. It meant $5 or $10 fewer groceries for the week.
“Do you want to go XYZ with me next week? My treat!” is another great tool you can use to encourage a hurting friend.
What would you add to these lists?
If you have another “do” or “do not”, I would like to hear them!
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