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HOW to help when someone is in need.

A few years ago I got an unexpected package in the mail.  There was a CD and a note.  It was from my little brother who lives in another state.  My little family was getting knocked around pretty good by life.  Thing after thing after thing kept happening.  He’d catch wind of it through various complaints by me over social media or through phone conversations or e-mail.  So he made me a CD of some of his favorite songs, wrote a note about how music helps him when life gets rough, and mailed it to me.

It was a CD of music.  Nothing seemingly big.  But it was unexpected, thoughtful, unsolicited, more needed than I realized, and something I’ll never forget.

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I have multiple examples of things like this in my life.  A neighbor I barely knew dropped off rolls after I had a baby, a friend brought a sign over she saw in the store and said “I saw this and it reminded me of you so I had to buy it”, my sister kept showing up at my house day-after-day when I had my fourth baby even though I said I was fine (I wasn’t), a friend I hadn’t seen in years dropped off some bread and a note saying she’d been thinking of me and our kids with anxiety (she has a kid with anxiety too and just wanted to say she understood), another neighbor dropped off a game after our son broke his leg and a friend brought a meal after the same kid broke his arm, and a friend who brought over a scented plug-in after I was at her house and said I loved the smell. Seemingly simple things, but anything but simple to me.

We all know the stories.  A friend/family members gets diagnosed with cancer.  The infertility treatment didn’t work, again.  A child dies.  Someone loses their job.  A child is diagnosed with an incurable illness.  Their dad unexpectedly died.  The neighbor lost their job.  A friend with small kids has the flu.  A friend has depression.  Someone’s just having a hard day.  A new baby is born.  An addict continues to wreak havoc on their family.  We can’t stop thinking about a certain person even though they seem fine.

The stories are endless.  And we find ourselves saying “What can I do to help?” and/or “Call me if you need anything.”  The problem isn’t that we don’t  want to help.  The problem is we really want to DO something.  But often can’t figure out what to do.

We hear these stories.  Our initial response is that we want to help.  We want to DO something.  But often we can’t figure out what.  So often we just don’t do anything.

I read a book, Love Does that changed my entire perspective on what Love means and what Love is (if you haven’t read it, you need to–trust me).  In the book, Bob Goff says:

“I reflect on God, who didn’t choose someone else to express His creative present to the world, who didn’t tap the rock star or the popular kid to get things done.  He chose you and me.  We are the means, the method, the object, and the delivery vehicles….God usually chooses ordinary people like us to get things done….

…it becomes clear that we need to stop plotting the course and instead just land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the “do” part of faith.  That’s because love is never stationary.  In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it.  Simply put: love does.

LOVE DOES things.  Love doesn’t just think about doing things.  Love actually does things.

I spent a LOT of time talking to friends, family, acquaintances who have been through everything imaginable.  I then compiled these ideas of things we can actually DO when tragedy strikes, when illness comes, when new babies arrive, when friends just have a bad day, when someone needs to be SEEN and LOVED. 

These ideas and thoughts were compiled from dozens of people who have BEEN through these situations.

Here’s the rough breakdown of categories inside:

The Helping Others Guide is 18 pages full of ideas for ANY situation, good or bad.

General ideas of how to help anyone in need for any reason. Specific ideas for specific situations. Things to take over to boost someone’s spirits or to strengthen in a time of need. Acts of service we can do.

Although every specific life event isn’t addressed directly, there are ideas in here for any person in any situation.

To buy the Helping Others Guide, just click “I want this” below!

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  • shannon

    I like to keep a blank card in my purse so I can write a quick note to someone before the thought leaves.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Of course you do Shannon. Because you are easily one of the most thoughtful people I know! Great idea!ReplyCancel

  • when our 9 mo old died, I will never forget my former pastor and wife who showed up with toilet paper, paper towels and plates. Costco sized! With family arriving for the funeral and visitors, it was the most practical gift and such a blessing.

    Also, I learned from that time not to say, call me if you need something. I was too overwhelmed to even know what I needed. Far more helpful were those who said, I love cleaning bathrooms, can I come Monday morning and clean yours? Or those who said, let me take your kids to the park so you can nap.

    Love does….I love that!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Amy,
      Great idea on the practical things. A friend of mine made the same comment as you. She didn’t even know what she needed or what to tell people to do to help her. Sometimes it’s just us acting and doing something. Anything.
      I’m SO sorry to hear about your baby. I am positive there is a special place reserved in heaven for parents who lose their children at a young age. Bless you and your family.ReplyCancel

  • Kolleen

    These are great ideas. As a person who works in a hospital, if a loved one is in the hospital, bring them a good pillow, jammies and a super soft blanket. Toss it all when you leave. You don’t want those cooties coming home with you!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Kolleen,
      Pillow and jammies at the hospital….perfect idea. Or even a pillowcase. I’ll have to add that to the list!ReplyCancel

  • Just lovely. I have been getting ideas together for a similar type post but was nowhere near as comprehensive as this yet so this is great! It is so hard to know what to do to help people in difficult situations but once you’ve had personal experience, it’s much easier to think of ways to help. Much better to just ‘do’ as people often find it hard to say ‘yes please’ when help is offered!
    Thanks for another wonderful post and great book suggestion 🙂ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Hey Bronwen, It’s definitely easier to think of ways once you’ve been through something. That’s why I asked all these people to help me. There’s NO way I could have come up with this comprehensive list without all their help. So many people had so many great ideas. And most of them are really simple. Just a matter of us doing them!!ReplyCancel

  • Receiving this email in my inbox this morning was perfect timing. My husband is a high school lacrosse coach. During a recent game, one of his players suffered a spinal injury. The entire community has been grasping at what to do to help this amazing young guy. So many people have already pitched in – events have been planned & fundraisers are underway. I have been struggling with what to do once he returns home (from rehab) and all the fundraising and support “slows down” (as it always does). Your list was the perfect jumping point to focus my ideas.

    I love this list and will certainly refer back to it often. It’s such a beautiful reminder that even a text is often enough (I received one out of the blue from my best friend from high school letting me know she was thinking about me & the Hubs the other week. She didn’t know how much we were struggling in that very moment and it meant SO much to me to know she was thinking about us). Thank you for taking the time to construct such a well thought out list. In times of need, it’s easy to feel helpless with no idea where to start. Having these actionable items will help focus the efforts in a positive way (and avoid overwhelming families in these situations). Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Jordan,
      I’m so sorry to hear about the player on your husband’s team. I grew up playing sports and know first hand how devastating those injuries can be. I hope this list can help with ideas on how to support him and his family. They’ll definitely need continued support once the trauma of the whole thing wears off. I have a close friend who went through cancer and I know that was a big struggle for her. Feeling forgotten even though she was still struggling so much.ReplyCancel

  • Such a great idea. I know I am always so glad when I act on a prompting to reach out to someone, even if I’m worried about imposing or offending. It’s always better to be kind!

    And I, too, hope to get away from the habit of just saying, “let me know if you need anything!” That does no good.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Me too Liv. I still find myself saying this and I’m trying so hard not to. That’s why I wanted a list like this (and recruited a bunch of people to help me with it). So in those moments when I know someone needs something, I can just pick something from here and DO IT!!ReplyCancel

  • Isabel

    About 9yrs ago we went through financial hardship, we ended up bankrupt. A woman I knew, from a harp class I had attended, dropped an envelope through my door on day. In a note she told me of the time she had parked her car in a multistory car park all day but lost her parking ticket. A stranger had seen her distress and paid her fee, but had refused to give their name and address when she offered to repay them. The stranger said “Pay it to someone else in need.”

    So she had put a £20 note in the envelope she gave to me, because she thought I could use it. I cried my eyes out. And I hung onto that money until I really had to spend it. I couldn’t bear to waste it. She told me to pay it back to someone else who could use it.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Isabel,
      This is such a cool story. Not the bankrupt part (that super sucks), but the paying it forward. Isn’t it amazing how something seemingly so small can make such a big impact on someone’s life!ReplyCancel

  • Abby

    when my husband was sick in the hospital, a neighbor with her son in the same class as my son, Took over our science fair project. She helped him with the poster she helped him with the experiment and with the report. It never would’ve gotten done without her.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Abby,
      That’s an awesome idea. Help kids with homework! I’ll have to add that to the list!ReplyCancel

  • Holly Dickerson

    Thank you so much for all of the incredible ideas on this page!!! Love it!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Holly,
      It’s definitely a great resource! I’ve already referred to it a few times just since I posted it!ReplyCancel

  • Wonderful! Helpful! Thank you.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Mary,
      So glad it was helpful. It’s really helpful for me as well. I have lots of smart and giving friends who gave me most of these ideas!ReplyCancel

  • lindsey

    Thank you for putting all of these wonderful ideas together. My husband was recently hospitalized for 10 days and we were the recipients of many of these similar ideas. I was driving back and forth to the hospital every day, which was an hour away from our home. I had some sweet friends drop off pre-made lunches for me to take to the hospital to make sure that I ate during the stressful time. I felt so loved each time I opened the tupperware with a homemade sandwich inside. Also as mentioned in your post, they packed a bag full of snacks to be kept at the hospital. These both seemed so simple but it meant so much to me. Someone else also dropped off a goody box of coloring activities and puzzles for the kids and bath salts and chocolates for me. They signed the card “Love, a friend”. Just knowing that others are thinking of you and praying for your family is a huge support.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Lindsey,
      Sounds like you have good friends! When my brother was in ICU for 3 weeks I was amazed at how much energy the hospital sucks out of you. We took turns sitting with him and after some of my rotations I felt exhausted. And all I did was sit there. It’s so nice to have a great support system when going through stuff like this. Hope your husband is doing better.ReplyCancel

  • Tammy

    LOVE this post! And LOVE that book Love Does! I refer to it often. Having a daughter that was hospitalized several times when she was younger I will say all of these are awesome! And it’s true, you do not forget when someone does these things for your family. You think back on them with a smile!

    Here is one that maybe wasn’t shared. When my mom was medically unable to walk (she is healed now PTL!) a friend of hers came over to spend the day & brought 2 outfits for my girls. She said she knew that was something my mom was missing out on doing herself—buying clothes for her granddaughters! Also, another friend came to her house & made several freezer meals for her while she was there. They spent the afternoon laughing in the kitchen together!
    Thanks for sharing! xoxoxoReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Tammy,
      Love Does is one of my favorite books! Thanks for the other suggestions! Doing things for people’s kids when they can’t do them themselves. Great addition.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanne

    At age 2, my oldest daughter was in the hospital for cancer surgery and to begin chemo. The doctors gave her 2 weeks to live-unless she responded to the chemo. The radiation specialist said no one as “involved” as my daughter had ever lived.

    Very late one night a friend showed up with her Bible tucked under her arm and said, “What would you like me to read?” I was at a very low point that night.(Only one parent was allowed to stay in those days.)

    Another friend, a nurse came and checked on my knee that I had just had surgery on a couple days before. That loving touch and concern for me as well really encouraged me!

    (My daughter survived and is 33 years old with a loving husband and 4 children of her own-something else the doctors said she’d never have.) God is supreme!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Jeanne,
      VERY cool story. So glad you’re daughter survived. She must be tough!! Amazing how seemingly small things are remembered so many years later.ReplyCancel

  • Debora

    Thanks for the terrific list of ideas. I will use this in a lesson at church to help the sisters put their faith into action. The nicest thing anyone has ever done for me is when I was having emergency surgery in the hospital, my husband was out of town, and I had 2 small kids being babysat at home. My friend came to the hospital and offered to wash my hair. It was SO appreciated (who doesn’t feel tons better with clean hair?) and something I would never have thought to ask anyone to do. You’re entirely right that the little things that show someone cares mean the most.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Debora,
      What a great idea! Washing someone’s hair in the hospital. Isn’t it weird how much better you feel after your hair gets washed? Especially being in the hospital. It gets matted and gross pretty quick! What a thoughtful friend! And THANK YOU for sharing that.ReplyCancel

  • […] I have been thinking about writing this post for months and a blogger I love reading actually wrote an excellent one on exactly this topic while I was pondering. It is fantastically full of ideas of How to help when someone is in need. […]ReplyCancel

  • M

    I had a stroke at 26 years old. I had to have a serious heart procedure (thankfully my stroke happened in the only city in the US that could do this procedure by catheter than by open heart surgery). Even though my husband and I lived in the same city with his brother/SIL, who was a pastor, they did absolutely nothing to help but just made the situation worse–my SIL kept insisting that I hadn’t really had a stroke–even though I was paralyzed from the elbow down in my left arm, and I never got my balance back. We did have one set of friends that were amazing to us. The husband had introduced my dh to and me to gourmet cooking, and we and that couple did so much together. The couple was in our city because the husband was in seminary school. The husband had recently been diagnosed with a autoimmune disease, just like me. We comiserated and tried to help each other. One night when the wife was out of town on business, the husband called and asked if he could come over and cook dinner for dh and me. He made his special beef bolognese sauce in my kitchen, while I sat at the ktichen table and talked to him and dh. I couldn’t even feed myself, my face was all drooped, and I know that our friend was trying so hard not to cry. He acted like nothing had changed and was the one person who saw me and not just a stroke victim. Those few hours of normalcy meant more to me than anything else. This friend died from a complication from his illness a few years later. I can’t wait to tell his children what a wonderful gift their father gave to me at the lowest point of my life. My friend truly got what so many other Christians, including many pastors, don’t get. Love does. He saw *me*, not an illness. My stroke was just the start of a downward progression of severe chronic illness. I’ve had so many people promise to do things for us, but most don’t follow through. I get that life is busy, but don’t tell people you’re going to do something and then act like those people don’t exist anymore. It’s very hurtful. Dh and I no longer go to church because our local churches promised so much but didn’t help when I was too sick to go to church. My dh also has some physical problems as well. It’s rough not having any support. I can’t do much, but I do call people and send messages on facebook. I’d also like to send more cards to encourage and thank people. I’ve discovered that the people that are out doing the most for others are the ones that have true empathy because they’ve been in a situation where they needed help.ReplyCancel

    • Pam

      “M”
      What a beautiful story ,about your friend. He probably needed you as much as you needed Him.
      It is sad our lives get so busy we forget about our friends when they need us the most.
      My parents , although older, went through the same thing years ago. My dad had a massive stroke at 56, and had to retire early, etc. both my parent s were avid golfers and had planned to spend their time golfing after dads retirement. Obviously, due to his handicaps afterwards, they were unable to. The thing that stuck out in my mind the most after dads stroke was moms comment ,( my dad died in 2005, my mom is still active at home at 88) telling me “you find out who your true friends are real fast when somethings like this happens”.
      I guess my point is, be thankful for your true friends, and don’t push God away, he is ther to help, even though your pastor didn’t.ReplyCancel

  • I have spent years trying to do things like this & teach my children to do the same. I never had money so I redid things I found at “roadside mall” or recycling whatever I could or I made artwork & gave them on special occasions not necessarily their birthdays or holidays. It’s been a real blessing to see people enjoy these gifts & often those who seemed well off, were the most thankful! Having chronic illnesses myself, I became more compassionate & more aware of the cost all family members pay so I always make a point of checking on all not just patient. Also, having taken care of 5 parents until their deaths, I realized how hard that is on caregivers. Often they end up sicker than patients they care for. The caring never ends & there usually aren’t anyone to give them a break & they ignore their pain as they can’t stop. My family would complain at times when my one time of helping stretched into weeks so I upped my care of them & the cost was high. But love does. Love reaches out. Love has a cost but what good is something that doesn’t require an effort? When those who are ill themselves or have very busy lives gives a gift, it’s that much more precious than normal.
    On a more practical note, I have found that making a basket w/napkins,salt & pepper, packets of ketchup or other condiments as well as disposable cups & silverware as that allows a patient confined to bed, have everything they need w/o having to ask caregiver to make another trip. I’ve also put hot soup, water for instant teas & coffees & even formula in thermoses & they were gratefully received especially if someone lives alone. Thanks for your article. Sometimes my attempts to help are mistaken guesses about what is needed but your article reminded me of times when I guessed well.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Marti,
      Sounds like you’ve spent a lifetime taking care of people! You’re a good person. The condiments pack is a great idea! Thanks so much for taking time to comment.ReplyCancel

  • Wow, what a HUGE list! This is great. Thanks for taking the time to come up with all these ideas and writing them down for all of us. I definitely agree that most of the time you need to just DO rather than ask or offer. I’m sharing this post with my readers!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Tiffany,
      So glad you liked it and THANK YOU for sharing it with others. I think it’s such a great resource for anyone who wants to do things for others.ReplyCancel

  • Melissa Hoskinson

    I just wanted to say that this is a very thoughtful and well put together article. I also enjoyed that you included that God wants us to serve and love one another. Having compassion, love, and brotherly kindness is one of the most important things. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Thanks so much Melissa! I appreciate you reading AND commenting!ReplyCancel

  • […] Be the Rainbow in Someone Else’s Cloud. How to Help When Someone Is In Need. […]ReplyCancel

  • When my husband died, several of my aunts cleaned my house and played soft music when I returned. We were out of town when he died. Also, they had removed all his medical equipment so I wouldn’t see it first thing. That meant so much to me. I can never thank rhem enough.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Melinda,
      Thoughtful people make such a HUGE difference in our lives. So sorry to hear about your husband. Thanks for taking time to comment! Hope you are doing well now.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    As a cancer patient who spent a LOT of time in hospital (originally given only 3 months to live but cancer free now) the things I appreciated most were:

    1. Nurse bait – special chocolates for nurses who took care of me while in hospital.
    2. Meals for my exhausted husband. I was being looked after in hospital and wanted to know he was being taken care of.
    3. When I couldn’t eat solid food my friends threw me a ‘Smoothie Party’. They all invented/researched smoothie recipes and brought the ingredients with them and made them at home one night. We had tastings and score cards. So much fun and made the most out of a pretty average situation. I had options/recipes I didn’t have the time or energy to look up. Forever grateful for that one.
    4. Rides and company to chemo and radiation appointments – desperately scary stuff and it’s hard to expect your partner to do absolutely everything.
    5. Dog sitting /walking. I wanted to know that my beloved dogs were being taken care of while my husband and I fought for my life.
    6. Care package in hospital. Fiends dropped off a bucket of goodies, my favourite tea, a decent tea mug, crossword puzzles, magazine etc.
    7. Laughter! It was like people were often afraid that I didn’t have a sense of humour anymore because of my illness/situation. Some of my most fun times were when friends visited me in hospital and made me laugh.
    8. Brining me a decent coffee in hospital- hospital coffee sucks!
    9. I just sent a friend a package of all the things that helped me during cancer treatment – creams for radiation burns(sorbelene cream and aqueous cream, dressings that help morphine patches stay on (waterproof dressings), Biotene mouthwash and toothpaste for dry mouth from chemo, Avene thermal spray for radiation burn, Nilstat Oral Drops for thrush in the mouth from chemo, chopsticks for dry, cracked lips from chemo, Moviicol Stool Softener (not pretty I know, but the medication cases constipation and that makes you feel even worse). Ordered it all online and had it sent to them.
    10. Introductions to friends/family who’d survived cancer – everyone wants to tell you about someone they know who died from it (do NOT do that). Knowing people who had survived made me feel I could beat it too.
    11. Someone bought in my pillow from home – that made hospital a little easier.
    12. I had an iPad but would have appreciated a loan of one if I didn’t have one. It made hospital bearable.
    13. DRY SHAMPOO! In hospital it’s hard to wash your hair but you love to feel presentable for visitors. Even better if you’re willing to apply and style your friend’s hair. If they have cancer they’re exhausted! Not everyone loses their hair with chemo, don’t be afraid to ask. Even if they will help them to enjoy their hair while they have it.ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Huffaker

    Thank you for such wonderful suggestions. My go to, has always been breakfast baskets. They’re quick and easy, no cooking required and as you said most people forget about this meal. Your message and great suggestions have inspired me to not wait until my friends go through a crisis. Some of these are just a great way to show your love. As my son has autism, most of my friends have kids that are on the spectrum as well. Some of these parents never get a break, as their kids can only be left with professionals. Professionals that are expensive and hard to find. The demands can be never ending. Some of your suggestions will be a great way to let the parents know I care and they are not alone.
    Any parent that has a child with special needs would appreciate being the recipient of these creative ideas. It can be exhausting, both physically and emotionally to care for our children. Many of them have challenges in their relationships. My husband and I have been fortunate, but just about everyone I know, that have that have had to face these challenges, are in marriage counseling or divorced. This is also a population that tends to have very few friends. Most moms tend to be friends with the parents of their children’s friends as they bond over play dates. With autism, our child may have few if any friends. We do meet other moms while our kids are in therapy and from support groups, but those friendships can sometimes be difficult to nurture and maintain, as most of us tend to be so geographically spread out. One thing I might suggest, reach out to the moms, who’s kids may have special needs, in your child’s school and church. Be mindful her child has no friends to invite to their Bday party. Be aware of that mom who can’t attend a Bible Study or Sunday School, maybe even worship service, as the church is not equipped to provide the care her child requires. I can tell you, most likely she is very lonely and will be very appreciative. I have read many a blog in the special needs community and a very common thread for these parents is loneliness. I am very fortunate, as my son is high functioning, but I too have felt excluded (I’m sure not intentionally) by other parents at school and church. My son is excluded, therefore so am I. Special needs aside, your blog reminds me that besides moments of crisis, everyone has day to day challenges and these are some great suggestions to add a little something good to their day. Thank so much for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • I try to go with my first inclination. If it strikes you that someone needs help, help them. Overthinking leads to inaction. After my father passed away, an acquaintance showed up at my parents house with a box filled with toilet paper, paper napkins, paper plates, disposable silverware and paper cups. It was a small but incredibly savvy gesture to my family. The number of times my family commented on the great gift was immeasurable 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Alex

    Thanks for the list! When an elderly couple at my old church both became ill, we took turns bringing them meals. They didn’t feel up to seeing people, so we kept a large cooler on their porch, and it kept hot meals warm or frozen meals cold until they came out to get them. It also prevented little animals from having uninvited snacks!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle

    Anyone have any ideas for gifts for someone that lost a pet they were very close to?ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Danielle,
      Great question!! Hope someone can contribute some good ideas, although many of these would probably still be applicable. Just letting them know you’re thinking about them and you care.ReplyCancel

    • Susan

      I make a donation in memory of the pet to the local humane society. People love it. Also, you could make a small album of photos of the pet if the person wants you to. Or if you are artistic, draw or paint a portrait of the pet. When my dog died, one friend game me a rock engraved with her name to set on the ground or keep with her ashes. I keep it inside however!ReplyCancel

  • What a wonderful compilation of creative thoughtful ideas. I am pinning this to go back on. One time that really stands out for me. Our dog went missing and was hit by a car, after a week of searching with the grace of God and our pet loving community, he was brought home to us. He had months of recovery and constant care. One day one of our loving pet friends brought a thermo dog bed and several inexpensive blankets over. She knew we had to keep washing his bedding constantly (from surgery). Having the extra bed and blankets made our life so much easier. She also brought treats for our other dog who was feeling a little left out. That gesture brought tears (and still does) to our family. I will never forget it. We often overlook when someone looses a pet. When my sweet dog of 14 years passed a friend brought me a photo album she had made for me to fill out with pics of our dog. I would have never thought to have done something like that. Kindness is all around us, I think when you said “if you think it -do it” is the best advise. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Kristina,
      Sounds like you have some good friends! Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you found this helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Carrie

    Love this list and info! Much appreciated- thank you very much! xoxoReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Carrie!
      Thanks for taking time to comment. Glad it was helpful. It’s definitely helpful for me as well!ReplyCancel

  • brenda

    Adult coloring books seem to be all the rage. I had my teenager pick one out, along with colored pencils, for her aunt who broke an ankle. I can imagine lots of friends getting this gift from me in the near future!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Brenda,
      Ooooh, I like that one! I actually love to color. It feels therapeutic. I’m sure if I was bed-ridden for whatever reason, coloring would be a good alternate activity. Plus if you have kids, they can climb up next to you and color with you. Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Anne

    Love this article, thanks so much for putting it together. I have it bookmarked and will be using some of these ideas soon. I recently made a personalized prayer/scripture book on Shutterfly and had it sent to a family that can use some encouragement. Once you have a basic one created, you can easily edit it with different names/Bible verses/etc. to make very personal gifts.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Anne,
      That’s a really great idea. Takes a little work on the front end, but then you can use it to give to lots of different people!ReplyCancel

  • Cori

    Our 11 yr old son has been hospitalized 7 times over the past 3 years. In the unit where he stays, he has very strict visiting hours and very strict limits as to what can be brought in. Although the list of things to bring to the hospital is nice, please check with the family to make sure they are allowed. What would have really helped me out during the last 2-3 hospitalizations was to make sure our other 2 kids (and me & my husband, too, actually) had something easy to grab for lunches & dinners. I don’t know how many meals I skipped because I was too exhausted to make something and put it into a lunch-sized container to eat on the way back & forth to the hospital. I even had a lot of the food/prep items, but just lacked the energy to turn them into portable meals and wasn’t able to think clearly enough to ask someone to do it for me.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Cori,
      So sorry about all the hospital visits. That’s got to be rough. The hospital tends to suck energy right out of me! And good idea about checking first. Totally depends on what people are in for I’m sure. The quick foods to go is such a great thing for family who has someone in the hospital. My brother was in ICU for 3 weeks and the hospital for about 5 1/2 and it was so nice to have a basket of food to munch on while we took turns sitting with him.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda

    Amazing post! Thank you so much, these are all great ideas. It’s always little things that make people’s day brighter and happier.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Amanda,
      Truth! I think we get so caught up in thinking it has to be some big huge production. When really people just want to know that we notice them. And that we care. Little things can be HUGE!ReplyCancel

  • Julie

    When a friend who has MS became unable to move her limbs I would go over and shave her legs and underarms for her. It made her feel better and she didn’t have to ask her husband to do it for her.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Julie–now YOU’RE a great friend. I probably wouldn’t even think of that. But I imagine she was so thankful for that.ReplyCancel

    • This is so incredibly kind & thoughtful, thanks for being inspiring!ReplyCancel

  • Bc

    Love this article!!
    Something new I am doing is finding a small purse-sized journal and putting about 20 or so Bible verses that encourage or show love and support. I have one I carry with me and in those times where you are sitting alone in a waiting room or whatnot, it’s a great comfort. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Keri

    After my ex died, someone went to the house to help and cleaned everything. They did all of the laundry and his mother was sad because she knew the clothes he had worn the day before were on his bedroom floor. Now washed and she just wanted to smell his smell again. I would suggest staying away from laundry if someone has passed away.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Keri,

      That’s actually a really good suggestion. I personally don’t want anyone doing my laundry for any reason. Clean my bathrooms, sure! But stay away from the clothes. That’s just me. And I’d be the same way. I’d want to be able to smell them.ReplyCancel

  • JR

    Be sensitive about anniversary dates. Not everyone is into them. When my husband died, the hospice kept contacting me for every first: death date, birthday, wedding anniversary, Mothers Day alone, etc……….had to tell them to bug off, I was fine until they kept reminding me.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      JR.
      That’s actually a really good point. I think some people may prefer NOT making a big deal about it while others may appreciate that someone remembered. Hospice I’d probably rather not have contact me. But if a friend sent a nice note or something around those times, that may be appreciated. But definitely not every anniversary.ReplyCancel

  • charlie brown

    The music list seems a bit ungodly, but I like your post.ReplyCancel

  • Sandal

    What a great list! A terrific resource when you want to do something but are unsure about what to do.

    Sometimes people assume if the husband is the one who is sick, then the wife can/will cook and no one brings meals. This is a wrong assumption as I would have greatly appreciated a few offers of meals after my hisband’s major surgery and long recovery (actually one neighbor did bring a meal and I was so grateful). Snow removal, salting and sanding is another need during the winter. Also offering to take care of pet needs (pet sitting, walking, grooming, etc.) is a big help.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Ooooh, pet needs is a great one to add to the list. And snow removal as well. I think it’s helpful when ANY member of the family is down (husband, wife, kids….) to have help. Any disruption to the family no matter who it is….
      Thanks so much for adding those ideas.ReplyCancel

  • I am a 2 time breast cancer survivor. I was first diagnosed at age 26 in 2000 and just recently diagnosed again in same breast in Oct 2015 at age 41. Currently going through chemo and awaiting surgery date. Still haven 7 mos of chemo. Friends have been signing up to bring meals 2 times a week since December and it has been very helpful for our family of 6! People have also given gas cards, restaurant cards, Walmart cards which help tremendously! A fellow survivor even brought a chemo care package which was very thoughtful. It was full of things she found helpful during g her treatments and there were things I had never thought of eve though I had been through it yrs ago. Even just getting cards, texts meant and means a lot! When I get down I like to put my thoughts on others and just send them a note to say hello!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Darenda,
      I’m so sorry to hear about your cancer coming back. I hate cancer so bad. Sounds like you’re a tough one though. The chemo care package from someone who has been through it is such a great idea. Would you mind sharing what was in the package?ReplyCancel

    • Pam

      Darenda ( love your name!)
      Am so sorry to hear about your breast cancer returning. I have a sister who had colon cancer and I am always terrified it will come back. I can only imagine what you are going through.
      I have a friend just recent,y diagnosed with breast cancer and would love to give her the chemo package. Can you send me a list of things in it that you particularly liked? It would be a wonderful gift that says I care.
      Thanks, and my prayers are with you – PamReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Long

    Thank you so much for doing this!! What a great thing to have. I am always wanting to do something for someone but stumped at what to do. You have made this so much easier!!ReplyCancel

  • Donna

    When my husband lost his job and we were struggling to make ends meet, my friend gave me a sweet note with a gift card to my hair salon. I thought it was the most personal and thoughtful gift! She truly put herself in my shoes and thought about what I could really use. Thanks for the great ideas!!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Donna–what an awesome idea!! I know during periods when we were struggling to make ends meet, hair was one of the first things to get cut out. Perfectly thoughtful idea!!ReplyCancel

  • Laurie Plummer

    Wonderful ideas. I liked your idea about weeding flower beds. Also consider planting daffodils or other bulbs in the garden when someone has passed away..I have done this a few times. It was really appreciated and much more lasting than sending flowers.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Great idea Laurie! Thanks for sharing.ReplyCancel

  • Teresa

    One of the best things someone brought over when my mother-in-law died was paper goods. You know, toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels, napkins, paper plates, plastic eating utensils, cups, etc. that person knew we would have many family and friends coming and going for awhile and we would need those things. It was great to not have to worry about running to the store for the essentials and it we didn’t have to spend time doing dishes after meals!

    Oh, and another sweet gesture was a family friend offering to iron our clothes the night before the funeral.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Paper goods is one of my favorite ideas. “Green” people may not love it, but when people are in just get through the next day mode, paper goods are heaven.ReplyCancel

  • Susan

    When a friend was going through chemo for breast cancer, our book group did two things. One, we made a jar of inspirations for her to read. Everyone emailed them to me and I printed and sliced them up into strips to pull out of the jar. Decorated the jar with a label and ribbon.
    We also had a cooler on her front porch and people were organized by an app to bring food on certain days. We left food in the cooler in case she was sleeping. A couple years later, she asked for my recipe for chicken soup with matzo balls for another friend undergoing chemo!
    Lindsay, thanks for this list and for the guidance about how to DO SOMETHING.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Susan,

      Great ideas!! Thanks so much for adding those.ReplyCancel

  • Pam

    I loved this. I had a friend quite a few years back that had a son who shot a bunch of people then shot himself. It rocked our community. I was talking to my mom the day it happened and I remember telling her I want to call but don’t know what to say or if she wants to even tallk to anyone. My,mom said if she doesn’t want to talk, she won’t, you need to call. It was a very difficult thing to do but oh such a right one to do! My friend just talked and talked, I hardly had to say a thing. She just needed to “get it out” and talk about the situation. It was the best advice my mom ever gave me, and now no matter how difficult it is, I always make sure I call, send a card, email, etc.. To anyone going through anything.
    Love the other ideas!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Pam.
      Wow!! That’s a big one. It’s always hard to call, but almost always it’s the right thing to do.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda

    Hello…I can’t help but ask. I was directed to your site while trying to view a recipe on Becky Higgins pintrest board. I am not able to read the recipe and it sounds SO yummy. Please help if you are able. It’s a recipe for Almond Joy Cookie Dough.

    Thank you So much for the consideration.
    AmandaReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      I emailed it to you Amanda!ReplyCancel

      • Amanda

        I didn’t get it. Could you pretty please try again. My junk email is set really high. I will keep an eye out this time. Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

        • ltross17

          Hey Amanda,
          E-mail me at ltross17@yahoo.com Then I can reply and send the recipe and hopefully it will go through that way!ReplyCancel

  • I was looking on Pinterest for ‘How to reach out’ or ‘How to encourage someone’ and this post came up! I was looking for good references for the business I just started and I LOVE all of your suggestions about how to reach out and help. There is SO much good information in this post. Saving this and I’m sure I will be sharing it! I don’t have a big following but I will definitely give you the credit if I reference it.

    Thank you for taking the time to put this list together! Next up, read Love Does. 😉

    MichelleReplyCancel

  • jacqueline

    reading this as someone experiencing a pretty rough spring (lost the last of my great uncle and great aunt, my medical issues hospitalized me and 2 of my friends contracted cancer) I needed to know how to help my cousins and friends’ family.ReplyCancel

  • Joan Rhoades

    When a great friend had brain tumors years ago we organized a ‘cleaning her house’ party since she instantly stopped smoking. Over the next several weeks several friends stopped by and when leaving asked ‘what can I do’ so we sent a basket of laundry home with them to drop off the next day. It kept her friends stopping by often. Also for the caregiver- gas cards and oil change coupons.ReplyCancel

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