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Don’t Just Offer — Just Do It

While recuperating from a long and debilitating case of shingles last fall, I received lots of inquiries about my health, most of them ending something like this:

“Just call if you need anything!”

“Let me know if I can help.”

“I’m willing to give you a hand any time you ask.”

While I deeply appreciated their offers, they were seldom translated into action. The reason? My own fault. The onus was onmeand I did not feel comfortable imposing my needs on others when it might be a major inconvenience in terms of timing forthem.Many of them have jobs and have family responsibilities while I do not. What I learned through my prolonged illness is that it is not enough just toofferhelp. Simplygiveit.

Drop in with a meal. No matter how lousy I felt, I didn’t have the nerve to phone even a good friend and ask her to bring supper, but how thankful I was for the two people who came by one day with chicken pot pie and potato salad. Another biked over to deliver fresh scones hot from the oven. Someone else came with chicken soup and a rose – food for the body as well as the soul.

If you are willing to do grocery shopping for the sick person, phone well in advance in order to give her time to compile her list. My mind was so blurred from pain and medication, I needed time to think.

Depending upon the season and the circumstances, the snow still falls, the grass still grows, the house still gets untidy and the laundry piles up. Just because I felt rotten I didn’t want my garden veggies to suffer the same fate. Thankfully, friend hubby did his best at keeping the yard and house in shape. Nevertheless, when suddenly pressed into service as cook, laundry maid, cleaner and nurse in addition to his yard and garden work, there were times his morale and energy both began to sag, and mine followed suit. What a lift it would have given us both just to have someone mow the grass now and then.

And while lots of attention is given to the one who is sick, the person whoreallyneeds support is the caregiver. He or she is shouldering unexpected emotional concerns as well as additional physical burdens. Don’t offer to help and then wait for a response that may never come. Just go ahead anddowhat you can to help out. It will be appreciated.

– Alma Barkman writes from Winnipeg

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