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How to help during the holidays!

Seasons Greetings!

The holidays are a joyous time for many, but for families dealing with serious medical illnesses it can be filled with anxiety.I can remember the first Christmas after Hope’s bone marrow transplant, it was such a very difficult time. Hope had been in and out if the hospital and I was not working, only my husband was. Many wonderful family and friends helped us and we will be forever grateful, but for many they don’t have family that live close by. I would like to share a blog post- Call us if you need anything! from Brittany Guerriero, President and CEO of Engenuity Exchange. Brittany wrote this after her mother passed away from breast cancer and it is such a great reminder.

Call us if you need anything!

The famous last words people hear again and again in times of need. Well-intentioned words placing the burden on the inflicted to initiate help and to connect the dots between generosity and need.

We utter these words visiting friends in hospitals and during condolences at funerals – offering a willingness to help but an uncertainty as to how. Suffering families resist imposing their problems on others. Both sides openly aware – help is needed but unsure how they coalesce.

The ability to recognize a situation's gravity, duration and demands requires time. Even then, it requires deciphering, communication and management. Families reach this point when instability has already set in.

The Generosity Paradox: when an existing need meets available help but lacks the fundamental coordination required to make the connection.

9 ways to bridge this gap:

*may be intrusive & limited to the patient’s inner circle. Check with family to gauge comfort level.

Beware those who speak on the family’s behalf without their permission. Self-appointed spokespeople cause frustration on both ends. Speak directly with the family. Let them direct you to someone else.

Needs and preferences change. Accepting help becomes easier and the things to receive help with expand. After several rounds of chemo, the smell of tomato sauce nauseated my mother. Convenient options like lasagna, spaghetti and pizza transformed into forbidden dishes.

This limited list represents a sole perspective. To improve it, please leave comments.

Families struggle to manage finances but also to budget limited time & energy. Ask yourself: by satisfying this need, what burden might I unintentionally give? For instance, avoid delivering meals in containers requiring a return. Does delivering help intrude or interfere with the patient’s rest? For instance, not stopping in to say hello to an ill patient is likely more polite as they probably do not have energy for visiting nor do they feel comfortable seeing guests when they are unwell (the last time you had the flu, did you want visitors?).

Do not underestimate the power of helping caretakers. Family can help with intrusive things. Help immediate family members with their responsibilities to free time for them to help the family.

From Wish Upon a Teen to your family,

we wish you much happiness in 2017!

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