Every now and then, we encounter a situation when a friend or family member is going through a very rough time, either a death in the family or an illness, and it is difficult to lend them a hand. It is often not that they don’t want the help, it is that they are overwhelmed with the situation and emotions they are dealing with, that they can’t wrap their head around getting help. In their mind, thinking about where they need help is almost harder than accepting the help.  

When you are faced with this kind of situation and you really want to support the person in need, here are some suggestions:

  •     Be specific in the ways you are offering to help.  For instance, I’d like to bring dinner to your family this week, or can I help drive your son to soccer practices a few times?
  •     It is important to understand why you think they won’t accept help.  Are they extremely private? Get overwhelmed easily? Too upset/grief stricken to even think straight in that moment?  Feel like the support would just complicate things? Worry too much about inconveniencing others?
  •     Don’t take it personally. It’s not about you – it’s about them. Don’t get offended if your offer to visit with them, take over a meal, etc. is rebuffed.
  •     It’s okay to ask more than once and offer a few different things.  But it is important not to be too pushy.
  •     Read the situation. If your efforts are turned down, then you can find other ways to show your support that aren’t intrusive.  If you push too much you risk causing your friend/family member increased stress and it will affect your relationship. Respect their wishes.
  •     As an alternative, consider making a donation to a cause that’s near and dear to them or send flowers or a personal card in the mail.
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