It’s Monday. Here’s some stuff on my mind this week.
When a tragedy occurs . . . a death in a family, an accident, a terminal diagnosis . . . it’s human nature to say something along the lines of: let me know what I can do to help or I’m here if you need anything. And I think that’s great. But if you say it, if you offer, if someone follows up and asks for help . . . please make sure you do what you said you would do. I am very very grateful for all of the help we got after Dale’s accident. People were wonderful and they did things we asked them to do, like helping fill the bird feeders, and also things we didn’t ask for, like dropping off coffee and treats and even dinner. But there were also people who said the words let me know what I can do and then we told them and then they didn’t follow through. And there were people who never offered, people we thought we could count on, and . . . crickets. Now. I realize I could potentially sound ungrateful and that’s not my intention here at all. I know how fortunate we are to have wonderful family and friends who went above and beyond over and over again. My point in writing about this is to serve as a lesson for you. If you are someone who offers to help a friend with a big chore (or even a little one, for that matter) please make sure you follow through with that. If you don’t, your friend will be left wondering why you didn’t. They will be hurt and let down and they might question your feelings about them and maybe even your integrity. Don’t be the person who makes a promise and then doesn’t keep it. Rather, be the person who shows up with coffee and treats, be the person who keeps the promise. And, if for some reason you can’t keep that promise because life happens, then be the person who explains why it’s not possible, be the person who apologizes for dropping the ball, and then (if you can) offer to do something else.
Whew. I’m glad I got that off my chest because what I really need is to let this go. To focus on all of the good that our people did and to forget the tiny few who didn’t show up. And to remember all of this next time I say the words: let me know what I can do.
And I think that’s quite enough for a Monday morning.
Oh, YES. True words! I’d also add this . . . DON’T say “Let me know if I can help.” Just . . . HELP. If you make that well-meaning-but-empty offer you’re actually just dumping the ball into the person you’re trying to help’s court. You’re making them INITIATE the request. And that’s hard. So next time, say “How can I help? Can I bring you dinner tomorrow night?” Don’t make your friend ask. XOXO
(And . . . when you’re going through any kind of difficult situation, you really do find out who your real friends are.)
Robby H. says
I try to be specific when I make an offer. Sometimes people are overwhelmed with the situation and can’t think of something or are hesitant to impost. I’ll say, “Can I help you with a meal? I’m available all week, or I can drop off something you can freeze and pull out when you need.” It’s not that I don’t want to help whenever it’s needed, but I’m also sometimes very busy (well, less in pandemic times), but my desire to help doesn’t change. And sometimes, I say, “Let me know…”, but then I check back in on them in a week or two or whenever it seems like things might have settled down, and then I ask again. It isn’t always a good time for me to help, but living up to your word is something that was relentlessly taught about all aspects of life.
While this post was probably difficult to write I think it’s a good lesson for all of us. A good reminder for all of us. Thanks!
Thank-you Carole! Yes to all of this!
Good advice for today – let it go. I needed to hear this today. Thank you.
I agree with you so much! If you really want to be a good friend to someone, they shouldn’t have to ask what they can do to help. I try as much as possible to say, “Tell me what I can do to help” or, like some of your friends, just show up with treats or come over and shovel snow from a sidewalk or do something else that’s not a big deal but can be a big help. I am sorry that you are feeling let down by people you thought were good friends — and they still might be. These are strange times, and I would hope that some of those folks are just dealing with their own struggles because of the pandemic and didn’t actually intend to leave you hanging.
Ruth Norton says
I’m sorry there were people – so-called “friends” – who made the offer then didn’t follow through. You deserve the follow-throughs! And I pray that I will always be dependable enough to follow through on any offers I make. Or considerate enough to not promise what I can’t deliver.
Denise Copeland says
As I said earlier, even though you do not know us, you are so welcome to visit is in Big Canoe in the Blue Ridge mountains. We have beautiful and safe trails that can be enjoyed year around. I am so happy that Dale is making steady progress. I have made a complete recovery of my fractured femur (and massive blood clot) and beat my pre-accident personal on my bike for a 20 minute ride. I am familiar with the message/reminder that you are sending, on a personal level, and want you to know that my original invitation is still extended. You may not know me but I have read your blog daily for at least a decade (since you stared the red scarf project).
Thank you for sharing this Carole – it’s a great reminder for each of us to be specific and follow through! (also, I’m so glad you had folks who did just that … I sure hope the others were outliers!) (and if you do take Denise up on her offer, I live about 45 minutes from Big Canoe!!)
This is a very good reminder Carole-it can be very frustrating when you are already stressed and your plate is beyond full to be let down. You’ve handled this whole “thing” with such graciousness. I’m sure there were/are times you just want to scream!
Excellent advice! A few years ago the wife of one of my colleagues was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after the fact when she was declared healthy (thank goodness!) she told me how hurt she was that one of their friends who was pretty close to her husband said nothing, offered nothing, did nothing.