People have been so great and supportive and kind and helpful to me the past few months, as I've been dealing with loss and illness. They've brought meals and sent cards and books and given me flowers and compressed air and taken me out and visited and prayed for me. I really appreciate it all. What I find so hard, though, is when someone asks "What can I do?"
I don't really need anything. I'm doing all my regular stuff (just more slowly and not as well) and I often can't think of anything to tell someone s/he can do. And I'm so so very tired and it feels like one more thing I have to do to come up with something that the person asking would like to do and would feel like s/he's being helpful and would really be helpful and is an appropriate thing for that person to do, given his/her life circumstances. And I get cranky and feel like I shouldn't have to come up with the thing for someone else to do. I'm easy - pretty much anything anyone does for me that seems helpful is. So I've mostly just said, "Really I can't think of anything" and then the person says "Well let me know if you do" and neither of us feels satisfied.
So this happened again yesterday and this time I thought about it some more afterwards and decided - I need a list. Then if people ask I can show them my list and they can choose something appropriate from it. It has to have things on it that people can do from near and far, things that take little or no money or time, things that various people can do. And, really, people have been doing so many things that are helpful that it was easy to put together a list based on things people have done.
So here is my list:
- Pray for me, if that's your custom. My Hebrew name is Dvorah bat Moshe v'Rivke Rachel. If you're not a praying person, think good healing thoughts.
- Visit me, if you have time (when I'm not in isolation). I don't feel up to going places much evenings and weekends, but I get lonely.
- Provide dinner, and tell me what night you’re doing it (No, that’s not just for the cooks. This is NYC – it’s easy to order food to be delivered)
- Give me a gift certificate to Fresh Direct and I’ll order provisions myself
- Bring me something you know I use a lot of, so I’m likely out of or will be soon: coffee beans, Halls cough drops, seltzer
- Give me (or just lend me) a book or movie you think I’d like – I’m going to have to occupy myself during isolation treatment
- Send me a card in the mail – it’s nice to get mail that isn’t bills
- Bring me some fruit – I go to the coop once a week and have farm share once a week and I still run out of fruit
- Give me something that makes me feel pampered – bath salts or a soft night shirt or something
I worried that the friend who prompted my coming up with a list might feel criticized, but she said she didn't and she understands. And she gave me a Fresh Direct gift certificate and is bringing me dinner one night next week. So I plan on whipping out the list whenever anyone says "What can I do to help?"