Illness, disaster, the unexpected.
Anything can happen – any time.
When ‘stuff’ goes down, the people it affects get busy. They’re dealing with it. For us looking on, we can feel helpless and say pretty useless things, but we’d love to do something. The questions and offers can go something like this:
If you need anything, I’m here!
Well that’s lovely. I hope you feel better now you’ve said that.
You can count on me!
Great. Now I need to think how to ‘count on’ you…
I’m here for you.
Might be useful but what are you ‘here’ for? What task can you do?
Then there’s my favorite:
Tell me what I can I do!
Again, thanks but I don’t have the space to think about what you can do. I don’t even know what you ‘can’ do.
These four statements mean well, really well. But they’re not specific.
My sister, Danielle Burns, is a writer. She gave me this idea when we were talking about a novel she’s been writing. I asked her how it was going:
Sister: “Ok, I’ve written about 10,000 words this weekend.”
Me: “Wow, that’s great, isn’t it?”
Sister: “Not really, but then I edited. I’m down to 6 words.”
Me – feeling crestfallen for her: “Oh, so not so great then?”
Sister: “Actually yes. I’m really happy. I have SIX GOOD WORDS.”
Then I broke my ankle.
Loads of people rallied around. My husband was exhausted running me from physio, hospital and other doctor-related appointments. And doing all the daily errands that two people usually share and going to work. Offers like the four phrases above came in spades. Except a few:
I’ll do your shopping – send list.
This was one text message. Yes! This is help I really needed. Specific, too.
You need social activity – coming now.
I was going a little crazy in our small apartment. Then it hit me. My sister’s words.
Six Good Words, designed by you.
Really supporting or helping someone is much simpler than I thought.
Six Good Words that really help. These are the only six words you need:
Here is what I will do: (count ‘em – yep, six good words!)
Before disaster strikes anyone you care about, get your list ready. What are the useful things you can do, be or organise?
Here are some examples – learnt from my sister who has been living ‘six good words’ for years:
- Drive: Be available for transport
- Walk their dog (or anyone else who needs it)
- Take them out for coffee – if they’re able – help them ‘be’ in the world
- Do their shopping
- Set up a blog with news to friends and relatives about your person
- Set up a CrowdFunding page if they need financial support
- Play with their children / homework help
- Cook a healthy dinner – and leave it for them
- Clean, or organise a cleaner for their house
- Call them and LISTEN
TIP: List things you are HAPPY to do/be/organise – this makes it a whole lot easier on everyone.
Six GOOD words that really help.
Six GOOD words designed by you.