I wrote a text to a friend today to check on his partner who has cancer. He thanked me and I followed up with “Please let me know what I can do to help”.

Nice words, and I’ll bet everyone who reads this has said them at some time in their life. I have said it several times to this friend. Today, I wrote a second sentence, “Can I make you some dinners?” To this I got an immediate and enthusiastic “Yes!”.

If your heart is in a place of offering help, please be aware that sometimes the one you are reaching out to may be overwhelmed and not know what to ask for. Offer up whatever you are good doing. The more specific the offer, the more likely it will be accepted. In trying times, it can be difficult for someone to accept help or reach out and ask for it.  We all have these moment when we need to be superhuman for our loved one who is injured or ill, or going through a rough patch.  But the caregiver must get care as well.  It’s always okay to ask for help. Remember the old saying, “A problem shared, is a problem halved”.

When you are aware of someone going through something, whether it’s their own struggle or that of their loved one, I truly believe asking gently how they are is the best first step. Actively listen and allow them to lead the conversation.  This time talking with you could be a respite, or it could be an interruption.  You will know.

At the end of the conversation, say, “what can I do to help?” and then follow it up with, “I would love to come take your dog out” or “I have a new soup recipe. I’m going to make a big batch and bring some to you tomorrow, what’s a good time?” and perhaps the most helpful, “I adore your mom and would love to spend some time with her, how about I come over tomorrow and sit with her and you go out for a walk or lunch?”

The specific offer will likely yield a positive result.  Do what you can to help, it will be appreciated beyond measure.