Mom Down: How to Offer and Accept Help in Times of Need


Mom Down: How to Offer and Accept Help in Times of Need

 “Let me know if there is anything I can do.”

 “I’m here if you need me.”

“Praying for you.”

 “I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, I had no idea.”

These well-intentioned phrases flow from our tongues and fingers so easily, but how often do they come to fruition? There are people who truly want to help and others who say they do, but don’t really mean it. There are also the people, myself included, who really do want to help but just don’t know how. On the flip side, there are also the people (myself, again) who don’t ask for or accept help.

I’m so grateful for the lessons I’ve learned both through the seriously tough stuff and the not-so-awful-but-felt-like-it-at-the-time stuff. I cherish the doers in my life because they’ve taught me not only how to help but also how to ask. Here is what I’ve learned:

When You are the One in Need

1. Admit Defeat

This is so challenging for some of us. It’s hard to show vulnerability, weakness, and incompetence. However, you have to take care of yourself first. If you are sick, overwhelmed, or not in a good place, then you can’t possibly give your best to your loved ones.

2. Open Up

If you don’t open up to others, they won’t be comfortable opening up to you. It becomes a vicious cycle in which no one knows when one another needs a hand. Without going off on a long tangent, I will say that it’s better to open up with a select few rather than a broad post on social media. On social media, your post can quickly become one in a long line of people with sick kids or stressful days. It’s not that people don’t care, but it’s very easy to click on the sad face, fire off a well-intentioned platitude, and keep scrolling. When you actually open up to someone personally (phone, text, or messenger) you are opening the lines for true connection and likelihood of helping one another.  

3. Accept Help

It’s okay to let people help you. We’re human; we can’t do it all. In general, I tend to refuse physical help and benefit most from simply venting to a friend and getting my thoughts and frustrations out. However, recently two friends said two things to me that helped me learn to just let people help: “It’s nothing you wouldn’t do for any of us in a heartbeat,” and “Shut up and just let people be awesome.”

How to Help Others in Need

1. Check In

When you’re sick, going through one of life’s big challenges, or just extremely overwhelmed, it’s easy to quickly feel alone, isolated, and like you have nobody. Simply knowing that someone cares enough to check in and let you know they’re thinking of you can do wonders for your emotional well-being.

2. Check In Again

Especially in cases of death or long-term illness, it is important to be there for the long haul. In cases of traumatic events, everyone is there in the immediacy, but weeks, months, even years down the road, people need to know they aren’t forgotten. You are never fully healed after losing a loved one. I’ve had the random pleasure, 20 years after my mother’s death, to have two of her childhood friends whom I’ve never met, reach out to me this past year. Simply knowing that she is still remembered healed a piece of my heart that I didn’t even know was broken.

3. Food is Love

The simple act of bringing or sending a meal means more than you can imagine. Recently, my family went through a tough time and a friend started a week-long meal train for us. I was mortified. Surely, in this day and age we could order our own meals or pick up our own groceries without getting out of the car. However, not having to think about food, expelling what little energy we had to boil water, clean dishes, etc. was a bigger relief than I could have imagined. Honestly, if just one person had brought us one pot of chicken soup, that gesture would have been enough to change our mindset, help us feel taken care of, and turn things around.

4. Be Thoughtful

Depending on the situation, offer something that will make just one hour of their lives less stressful. To a sleep-deprived mama, watching her kids for an hour so she can nap can make the biggest difference. To an overwhelmed family, mowing their lawn could be just the breather they need. Offering to carpool, run errands, or simply dropping a much-needed cup of coffee on their doorstep could be all it takes to help them feel supported.

5. Send Money

Giving money can often feel impersonal, but in some situations that is truly what is needed. Money will help people in cases of house damage from a catastrophic weather event or fire. It helps cover extensive medical bills. In these situations, every little bit helps and I’ve seen the power of everyone giving just $10. However, no matter how generous your donation, please refer back to #1 and #2. It’s the most important. Even if you can do nothing else, just make a connection. Reach out. Be there.

Life is hard. None of us are immune to tragedy, difficult times, or overwhelming stress. Our job is not to judge, determine severity, or criticize. If a friend is overwhelmed, going through a tough time, or needs a little boost, we need to step in. We also need to find the strength within ourselves to let others know if we’re the ones in need. Let’s do more of what makes life beautiful and be there for one another through it all.


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