Helping Those Who Are Hurting Right Now
Updated: Mar 30
A year ago this month, I suffered my fourth miscarriage. With that anniversary and the current COVID19 crisis in mind, I keep thinking of what we can do for those who are suffering from the effects of sickness and social distancing. So many of us want to help, but simply don’t know how.
After my miscarriage last year, one of my good friends showed up with fresh flowers, and I can’t tell you how much it lifted my spirits. The smallest acts can make the biggest difference.
Here are a few thoughts on how each of us can make a difference right now, too. (And for a list of helpful resources for those in need, be sure to read to the end!)
In this case, the best thing you can do, honestly, is to do less…as in, don’t go shopping, don’t get your hair cut, don’t go to work if you can help it, and don’t visit friends or family outside of your home. Ben’s a pharmacist at the hospital here, and more people are sick, dying or put under quarantine for not following these guidelines. He’s taking on extra hours to cover for sick coworkers, too. If you need some encouragement for keeping your distance through the coming weeks, read this excellent piece “Hold the Line” by epidemiologist Jonathan Smith.
Stand strong. You can’t help others if you’re falling apart under every little stress. You have to know how to be resilient, compassionate, peaceful and optimistic, all on your own. Do the work to be that person. (The best part is, you'll feel better, too!)
Share any extra food, toilet paper, soap or other supplies you have. Call your neighbors and friends to see what they’re in need of. You can also donate to your local food bank or homeless shelter, which are likely strained at the moment.
Reach out to those who are vulnerable: the elderly, disabled, or kids who might feel alone and afraid right now. Call them periodically to check on them. Ask questions and listen. Let them know you’re there. A few weeks ago, I found out my neighbor has terminal cancer, her husband left her and that she was being scammed by someone online. You never know until you ask.
Remember that your reality is not the same as everyone else’s. You might be affected very little, while others are losing their loved ones, businesses, or everything they’ve dreamed of. Personally, I love being at home with my family with time to spare, but I’ve had to work hard at that. I believe in learning to be content in any circumstance, and this crisis can be a call for all of us to slow down. Still, I recognize that for some, the isolation is pushing them to their limits. We can be sensitive to that, and help each other make the best of things.
Snip a few spring blooms from your yard, tie them up with some twine and leave them on the porch to show someone you’re thinking of them. (Avoid going to the store to buy flowers, unless you’re already there for necessary food, and be sure to wash your hands before and after delivering.)
If you know anyone with a small business, ask how you can support them right now. They’d know best.
Speak comfort to those who have been impacted most—those who have lost money, been put under quarantine, hospitalized, or who have a loved one who has (or worse, has passed away). Be empathetic. This isn’t the time to talk about politics, your own troubles, or blame anyone for what’s happened. This article “How not to say the wrong thing” shows the best way to do that.
Sew face masks with any extra fabric you have on hand. Hospitals need them. Read up on the CDC guidelines here, then follow the tutorial here. (Apparently JOANN Stores are giving away free kits with all supplies included! Find out more here.)
Start a group text with friends, family or neighbors—especially those you might not usually be in touch with, or who might feel lonely right now. Share quotes, jokes, and updates with each other. My teenage niece and her friends are writing a story together by taking turns each writing a line, and they’ve had such fun!
Send handmade cards or art, or record a special song or video for someone. Get your kids involved, too. Say what you admire about that person, your favorite memory together, or simply share your love. (Note: paper is not a very efficient carrier for viruses, but if you’re concerned, lightly mist your handmade cards with disinfectant and let them dry before sending them.)
(Update 3/30/2020: I'm hearing that this virus is very efficient at living on all sorts of surfaces for days, and so we've decided to send pictures of our cards via text messages, rather than sending them through the mail or delivering them in person.)
Give blood. There’s a shortage, so if you can give blood, then do. Find out where and when here.
Find ways to go without. Maybe it’s your hair appointment, manicure, or brow wax—or foods, products or entertainment you like to indulge in. Can you DIY or make it from scratch? Substitute it for something else? Get by without it completely? (For instance, I'm trying some new back stretches instead of going to the chiropractor. So far, so good! And I've learned to make Alfredo better than my favorite Italian takeout.) I believe this is a beautiful opportunity for us to return to a simpler way of living. It’s how our great-grandparents got through the Depression, and it’s a big part of how we’ll get through the next several weeks. Save or donate the money you would’ve spent to help the relief effort.
If you’re hurting too, look outside yourself to help relieve your own suffering. See what you can do to lift those around you. Take good care of your health, too; don’t ruin it with unhealthy distractions, neglect or self-doubt. Encourage those you love do the same.
Enjoy your life! I know it's difficult when others are suffering, and we need to take this crisis seriously. But what’s the point of living if we’re not finding joy in it? Keep doing the things you love to do as much as circumstances allow—spend time outdoors, play games, make your favorite foods, smile and laugh. Your hope and happiness can help others around you get through this difficult time, too.
Photos by Hannah Mann
I wish I could magically solve every problem: not only how to keep millions from dying, but how to find childcare for those still working, pay the rent, tighten the budget, keep business going, or do school at home. This is how many are struggling right now.
But I do believe that for most of us, this crisis is wreaking havoc on our emotions more than anything else (which I wrote about in this Instagram post). I also believe that we have control over our emotions, even when we don’t have control over our circumstances. That’s how we’ll overcome this.
We were made to get through times like these, and we’re here to help each other.
May you feel love, comfort and peace,
HELPFUL RESOURCES FOR THOSE IN NEED:
Call 211 to learn about resources for food, shelter and financial support in your community.
Kids in need can receive free meals through most school districts, as well as some local restaurants.
Families in need can shop their local food bank. Find it at Feeding America.
Order meal or grocery delivery for those who are unable to shop for themselves. Read the latest recommendations from Consumer Reports here.
Find online therapy for addicts, as well those with anxiety, depression or mental illness.
If someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, he or she can call the suicide hotline to speak with a counselor: 1-800-273-8255. (You can also offer to call with him or her.)
To report abuse of children, adults or pets, call the National Domestic Violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233. (Keep in mind, it may take a few days for them to respond, so if it’s urgent, it’s best to call the police.) Read more about what you can do to help on their website here.
Learn what to do about online predators and keep your kids safe on their devices.
For those who are unemployed, many companies are hiring now to respond to higher demand. For a list click here.
If you know someone who's grieving (or you're grieving), find support and resources through My Grief Connection.
Do you have any ideas to add? Please do in the comments! Or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to join my mailing list with tips for feeling more calm and content, sign up here. I send out my Simple Greetings about every week.