It can be hard to know how best to support friends and loved ones struggling with illness or those recently bereaved. Will you intrude if you call? What will you say if you visit? How can you possibly predict what might help?
Years ago, when my mom was seriously ill, I was her caregiver. Overwhelmed, far from home and my support system, I had to lean on my mother’s friends. And they came through with meals, transportation, companionship, and errands. As kind and caring as they were, it was one friend whose offers meant the most.
Each morning she would call and tell me when she had free time that day. It might have been between two and four or eleven and noon. Whatever time she had, she offered to stay at the house so I could leave and take care of whatever I needed to do.
I can no longer remember this friend’s name, but I will never forget her kindness. She arrived on time and with a book. She’d read if my mom was asleep or keep her company if she was awake. If my mom needed some help, she was there to help.
This short, daily respite allowed me to run errands at the grocery, pharmacy, or the shopping mall, take a short walk, or stop and pick up something for lunch. It gave me an opportunity each day to take a breath, knowing my mother was in good hands.
After all these years, it’s this wondrous support that I remember most. And when I have the opportunity, I do it for others. Sometimes, you give the most when you give the gift of yourself.