Sunday, June 09, 2013

How to be a Friend to a Friend in Crisis -Guest Post

Guest Post:

My treasured friend Bekah wrote this article on her blog and I was so touched by it that I wanted to share it. I love the helpful hints she offers as she is standing on the front lines COURAGEOUSLY fighting for her daughter Keira.  On her blog she shares her journey to understanding and accepting the diagnosis of CMV on her beautiful little girl.  I hope you gleam perspective from what she has shared and I know she'd welcome you to her blog so that you too can be an advocate for CMV. You can find her blog at
Her posts are incredible and I find myself blessed to call this incredibly strong woman my friend.  Be Blessed.

How to be a Friend to a Friend in Crisis: Preliminary thoughts and an invitation to discuss

Over the past nine months, I’ve been initiated into a whole new way of being. As author Emily Rapp said, I immediately had the sense that I needed to “make my world big” for the sake of my daughter and myself. The befuddling question of what to say or not say, do or not do when someone you know faces a tragedy is something we all face at one time or another. By experiencing the comforts that the community has provided and, in return, making myself available to others in times of need, this is what I have learned:

1.     Let them know how what they are going through affects you.
I have been surprised to find that the most uplifting thing has been simply being made aware that other people are thinking about us, want to know what’s going on, and feel connected to us in some way. Do not underestimate the value in that. A quick note or call saying that you’ve heard what’s happened and are wondering what it’s like and how things are going can go a long way in helping someone feel more secure.

2.     Be specific about how you can help.
In crisis, finding help and delegating people to help satisfy basic needs can be a full time job in itself. Resist the fear of offering something “silly” and make known what you’re actually willing to do. I can’t tell you how many times that’s helped me. For example: watch the kids, pick up my dry cleaning, pay for a week’s groceries, fill my gas tank, clean my toilets, fold my laundry, watch my dog, make some phone calls, let me take a nap, bring me a meal, etc. I’m much more likely to take you up on a specific offer than, for example, ask you to do my laundry if you’ve simply said, “Call me if you need anything.” Also, let me know the level of your availability and/or commitment. For example: Thursday afternoon, every Thursday afternoon, 6-8 am, next weekend, etc.

3.     Be there when the “crisis” is over.
The first few days and weeks are bubbling and exciting, always waiting for new progress and information to arise. However, the adjustment lasts far longer than the initial commotion. Let me know you’re there, even after 3 months, 6 months, when the help seems to be dissipating, but may still be needed.

4.     Don’t err on the side of caution
Too many friends have been so afraid to say “the wrong thing” that they say nothing. This, cumulatively, feels lonely. The most heartfelt and thoughtful messages I have received in the past months have been from distant relatives, friends, and acquaintances who are watching from afar.

5.     Ask questions.
I’m dying to talk about what’s happening in my new world. But I worry that you’re sick of hearing about it. When you ask the basic, “How are you?” or “How’s Keira?” I don’t know if you’re just being polite, or if you are interested to know about how I haven’t been sleeping well lately, or that I’m feeling bogged down by the minutiae of K’s therapies. Ask me what it’s like. What I need. How things have changed. How you can be involved.

6.     Tell me about you.
I do not want my world to close in and be narrow. In fact, I fear that. I want to hear what’s happening in your life. Too many friends resist telling me their news because “it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through.” Nah. It’s all relative. I mean that. The only way that I’m going to be annoyed about hearing the details of your most recent drama at work is if you express no interest in my life in return.

7.     Don’t forget the family.
Parents, spouses, and children are our go-to people. They are working overtime to bring us back to homeostasis. Ask how they are. Offer to help them. Realize they are affected, too.

8.     In regards to what to say/send/give, if it’s from your heart, do it.
What matters is that you’re sincere. You can never know what state of mind your friend is going to be in when he/she receives your gift or your words, but the effort itself means so much. For example, a cliché statement such as “blessing in disguise” could feel profoundly beautiful or disgustingly Pollyannaish, depending on the day. But the fact that you stepped into my world in whatever way you could is valuable.

Your turn. Please jump in. Repost this if you think it would be of interest to anyone you know. I know many of you who read my blog have experienced your own tragedies: injury, stroke, death in the family, miscarriage, etc. etc. Some of you may really disagree with my conclusions or you may have things to add. I want to hear it. What has helped you? What has not?

Posted by Rebekah 

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