Have you noticed how life has a way of whacking us on the side of the head when we least expect it? Even at this lovely age and stage of life, when you’d think we’d be getting more used to it, tough times can still knock the wind out of our sails whether happening directly to us, a Beloved or someone we know well enough to hear about what’s going on for them. So, what to do, what to do, what to do, to let them know we care?
It’s sad but true that in our busy-ness, our well-meant intentions can sometimes stay just that. You know – the thing that sits on our To Do list (buy a card, make a call, order flowers, send a text or email, bake a cake) for an indecent period until, somewhat embarrassed by the passage of time elapsed as our own life goes on, we either take some form of belated action or decide that the time to act has passed and strike it off the list, while berating ourself, instead.
Harder then, is to take thoughtful and timely action, especially when the tough time is for an extended period. That, in itself, makes your actions even more precious to the beneficiary.
A witness to much care being bestowed on a tough time-ee (TTe) this year, I noticed three clear components which, when present, elevate support (in any form) from being received as ‘Oh how kind’ to ‘Oh wow! How incredibly thoughtful’. They all start with you tuning into the TTe’s Head, Hands and Heart to consider what the tough time really means to them and the people they care about. To paraphrase a Native American Indian proverb: Put yourself in your TTe’s moccasins and do your best to imagine walking 1000 miles in them. For instance:
- What is keeping your TTe literally and/or figuratively awake at night? What are they worried about?
- Do they need practical help – meals cooked, house cleaned, outings, library books chosen or returned, email responded to, driving to appointments?
- What do they have energy for – mentally, physically, emotionally?
- Are they up to company – for a short spell, morning or evening, at home or will being taken out somewhere lift their spirits?
- How long can they concentrate for – magazines vs books, podcasts vs movies?
- What might they be afraid of – being alone at night?
- What are they able to do – now and later, while convalescing or when recovered?
- What can they pick up and put down, if mind and energy is variable?
- What might be symbolic of their progress – a chart to tick off?
- Can they bathe themselves, wash their hair, put on lipstick, drive safely?
- What do they try to do independently, because they don’t want to be a bother?
- How are they feeling at any given time?
- Is any time of the day better or harder for them? Likewise, any day of the week?
- Do they need cheering up? Little and often or better to have a good old session?
- Are they desperate to be needed themselves?
- As well as any physical pain or constraints they may have, are they feeling unattractive, unfeminine, vulnerable, unlovable, unworthy of support?
And after channeling your TTe, just go ahead and do the thing – whatever it is. Don’t just think about it. Prioritise its importance and make it happen. You’ll feel as good about the doing, as the TTe will feel about receiving your thoughtfulness.
Of course there are considerations – distance, time zones, resources available, your place in their life etc – which need to be taken in to account but investing your time, thought, emotion and actions with the sole purpose of making a difference for the TTe really shines through in your chosen form of support.
A wonderful example of this, which arrived in the mail at the most perfect time for my TTe, was ‘A Jar of Mirth’ which contained Christmas cracker-like riddles, such as:
- What lies on the ocean bed twitching? A nervous wreck
- Daughter: Daddy, did you know girls are smarter than boys? Daddy: No I didn’t know that. Daughter: Well, there you go!
- What does Santa do with fat elves? He send them to an ‘elf (health) farm
- What is round and bad tempered? A vicious circle (which was particularly apt for the TTe who had, in fact, been feeling distinctly less-than-cheery that morning.)
Apart from the massive amount of thought, patience and time, which clearly went into making the (above) gift, love and care absolutely oozed from it. And that same love and care was felt every single day, as a riddle was chosen, read aloud to anyone present, then giggled or groaned over. A moment of lightness in heavy times…
Remember then, to pour your own love and well wishes into whatever support you are gifting. The TTe needs all the good vibes they can get and energetically speaking, positive thoughts, just like prayers (regardless of your beliefs) really can make a difference.
Ripenist Reveal: What’s the most thoughtful gift or support you’ve ever received?