Have you seen this Facebook post?
Everyone says: ” If you need anything, don’t hesitate, I’ll be there for you “… so I’m going to make a bet (with being optimistic), I’m asking my ” you can count on me friends ” to put this on their wall. You just have to copy (not share). I think I know who I can count on… and I’m sure it will be less than 20!! Write “done” in comments when you’re done. It’s mental illness awareness month and I’ve done this for a friend… I pride myself on being there for my true friends.
I learned something two years ago when Bridget was in the hospital. A dear friend, Jen, called me once she learned we had been admitted to the hospital. She did not ask me what I needed. She did not say, call me if you need me. Instead she said, “I am not hanging up until you tell me 3 things you need me to do”.
Mind you, I hadn’t bought one Christmas present. I was hosting Christmas dinner and had no food. My parents were arriving the next day and I wasn’t sure if there were clean sheets in the guest bedroom. Truthfully, Jen was opening herself to a world of chaos. Lucky me, not only had she offered but she truly meant she was there for me.
Next thing I knew stocking stuffers were bought and wrapped. Meals arrived along with my shocked parents. A playdate was arranged for my older child and when we were discharged on Christmas Eve the house might not have been decorated but there was no doubt we were loved, valued and most importantly we were lucky to have been accepted into a village who without asking questions was there in our time of need.
I learned an important lesson 2 years ago.
Don’t tell someone to call you if they need you.
The truth is, if they have the energy, the stamina, the wits, to call you they do not need you because they crisis is over.
The crisis will be over and you have lost the chance to help your friend.
If your friend is in crisis, do not tell them to call you. Call them, knock on the door and bring chocolate (you can never go wrong with chocolate). Be innovative, bring toliet paper and bread and cereal and ice cream. Call them and tell them you are taking the other child on a play date. Hire a cleaning lady to do the bathrooms. Talk to the school on their behalf and help their child with homework.
Do something other than say, call me.
Because seriously call me is like telling that horrible date it’s not you it’s me.
The parent in crisis doesn’t have the time (or energy) to call for help.
The friend of that parent has to be proactive, obnoxious and be there for their friend knowing that their friend is lucky if they brushed their teeth today.
A little over a week ago I was, for lack of a better analogy, a Debbie Downer with a shot of self-pity and a dose of poor me-ism. My friends let me have that moment. They were there when I said I needed them and then they reminded of why I should see the silver lining. Because they know I need to see that lining. They know if (for my mental well-being) I need to be proactive and not reactive or hiding under my pillow.
If you want to be a friend, don’t ask but tell. If you are asking what you can do you are not paying attention. No matter what Facebook says, don’t just like a post or say you wil be there. Be present, be annoying but give your friend the words they cannot articulate.
To this day, I remember my friend Jen and her words of kindness. Not asking a question but making me focus on what needs to be done.
Words matter, use them wisely.
Goosebumps, Kerri. This is so on point. I am suddenly remembering all how people helped me when my husband died. Thank you. And yes, your Jen is the very best. Off to share.
I think a lot of people don’t know how to navigate difficult situations and I actually find that Facebook has helped enormously, because you can ask for help without asking a specific person (which I would find very hard). I may see that someone needs help and then can offer as much as I can manage, and others do the same for me, even if it’s just advice, but sometimes it’s something really useful and practical x