Doing GOOD When People Need It Most

One of our doGOODers recently had a family member pass away and after hearing about how many people extended a helping hand, we asked them to share some tips on how to help someone when they need it most.  We don’t claim to be experts, but since one of us experienced it first hand, we thought we’d share some of what helped the most.

See Something Out of Place, Pick it Up

Keeping a house in order without multiple visitors everyday is hard enough.  If you’re visiting, try to be aware of cups, trash, pillows, etc. that might be out of place.  Don’t ask if you can help clean up — just do it. Clearly, you don’t want to intrude and start re-organizing their spice cabinet…but be sure not leave your own mess behind and if you can grab the trash on your way out and take it to the curb, do it.

Be Specific.

Finding jobs for people who have offered to help is a job in itself.  If you can offer very specific tasks to the family in need, it gives them an opportunity to just say yes or no and relieves them of trying to come up with ideas of what they need.  Think about small things you can do to help and offer them up:
  • Walking the dog
  • Offer space in your fridge for extra food
  • Airport pick ups
  • Yard work
  • Grabbing something from the grocery store

Social Interceptor

Everyone deals with grief differently.  Some retreat and speak to no one, others want to share their every thought.  Our doGOODer explained a need for someone to “save” family members from overly supportive friends who wanted to talk for ages — sometimes about their own problems.  Being a social interceptor might require some skill in reading people, but if you see a family member being overwhelmed by a “talker”, our best advice is to politely interrupt and ask that person to help you with a task of sorts.

Funerals Are Expensive – If You Can, Offer Some Bucks

Everyone thinks of food to offer, but sometimes one more lasagna just won’t fit in the fridge.  If you have the means, consider sending them a little cash to help pay for some of the details.  For example, printing a standard obituary in the local paper can cost over $300. You can even send it anonymously if you want.

Email vs Phone vs Carrier Pigeon

There are so many ways to contact a person now — email, phone call, Facebook, text message, snail mail.  It’s overwhelming and everyone has their own preference.  The best advice we can offer is to keep it short and sweet.  All of it.  And in our opinion, the best way to express your condolences is via snail mail.  There’s a human connection to seeing someone’s handwriting and somehow it seems to offer a little more comfort than another email in your inbox.

You Only Have to Be Nice to Family

At some point during all of this, a friend offered some great advice: “You only have to be nice to family.”  So, as a friend/neighbor/colleague offering help, don’t take it personally if you haven’t heard back or were never asked to help.  Simply offering help is all you can do.