How To Provide Meaningful Support


How To Provide Meaningful Support
Many of us feel unsure how to help a friend or loved one through a difficult time. I feel like this from time to time and wish I didn't. I was especially reminded of this recently.
When the news is sudden or hard and emotions run high is when we most often want to do something --- anything to help. I've come to learn the question to consider is how to best serve in your unique role.
Recommended read
Author Marissa Henley wrote Loving Your Friend Through Cancer from her personal experience. The book is a wonderful resource full of practical tips, advice and hope for how to provide meaningful support. While the focus is on her story with cancer, the information shared applies to all situations.
Know your unique role
One idea I found especially helpful was to know your role as a friend or acquaintance. Marissa does an excellent job of going further with this concept by helping you determine your circle. When you don't know what to do, this is an excellent starting point for ideas on how to best respond.
The inner circle of caring
As you might imagine this circle includes your closest friends. The ones you text or call at all hours and know every detail and still love you. You often have conversations on a heart level and reveal your true self. Marissa shares in our social-media-obsessed culture we often have a skewed perspective on closeness. Realistically consider how you socialize with your friend and how information is shared with you.
One way to help your inner circle friends would be to offer to coordinate a meal schedule. Use this handy meal recipient questionnaire as a guide to get started. Other ideas include providing emotional and spiritual support, care for children who are already familiar with you and help with other needed tasks within the home.
The middle circle of caring
This includes your wider circle of friends. You probably share a common interest or go to the same school, work or church or grew up together in your hometown. You are connected and always glad to see them. Think of this circle of friends as just beyond the home.
Ways to help include transportation to doctor appointments, volunteering to do yard work and run errands, providing meals and short visits. A simple way to help is to check in when you are running to the grocery store and ask if you can pick up any needed items. Another idea is to offer to go on a walk together or even take their dog on walks if that is helpful.
The outer circle of caring
This circle includes acquaintances, online friends and friends-of-friends who are willing to provide support. It is just as important as all the other roles! From Marissa's experience she shares the primary responsibilities are to bring food, communicate support, pray and bring more food! Check out our tested recipes to care for others.
Other ways to help are to send an encouraging note, comment on their blog, add their name to your prayer list, contribute to and support fundraising efforts and communicate they are not alone. Often there is a burst of support that decreases as time goes by despite the ongoing situation your friend faces. Continue to show your support through the long haul. It means more than you will ever know!
Be the hope someone needs today
Regardless of which circle you fall in, your care and support is much needed. In your unique role you can provide encouragement, a sense of normalcy and compassion. You may be the hope someone needs today.

Read other recent articles by Lindsey Shantz:

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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

Welcome! We're thrilled you stopped by. Our own joys and sorrows have taught us that a well-timed meal delivered by a friend is one of the best gifts imaginable. In this space, we share our favorite recipes to take to friends, meal-taking tips, and other ways to care for those who are dear to you.

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