When people go through trying times, they don’t want to burden their loved ones, and they likely don’t have the energy to think of anything but the problem directly in front of them. Those who love them are left wondering how to help their friend who says they don’t need anything. I know from experience on both sides, and more recently I’ve been the friend who said she didn’t need anything. It wasn’t the truth.
Within a matter of seconds, our worlds were flipped upside down.
One afternoon in March, I had just come home and was getting changed out of my work clothes. Hubs had been home sick with the flu all day and was napping on the couch. My in-laws were settling into the new home on our property they had moved into the week previously.
Suddenly, my mother-in-law ran into the house asking Hubs to come help his dad up. He’d fallen and needed some assistance.
We had no idea in that moment that this would lead to a month-long hospitalization and months of rehabilitation. We didn’t know how many sleepless nights were ahead or how many hours we would be spending in the hospital.
In that moment, we couldn’t have predicted how many times we’d have to answer the question “What can we do to help?”
The moments that have stuck with us the most through this experience were small gestures: A text just to say “hi” or “we love you guys”, a quick visit, a distraction. Knowing that our friends and family were sending positive thoughts or prayers our way meant the world.
If I were to go through this experience again, I would probably speak up more when people asked how to help me, a friend who says they don’t need anything. The biggest struggle of the month my father-in-law was in the hospital was getting food into our own bellies.
Since we were spending just about every waking hour in the hospital or at work, we lacked the time we needed for healthy eating. There was no time for grocery shopping, prepping lunches, or cooking.
When people asked how they could help, we didn’t know what to say. Our basic needs were being met. We ate breakfast and lunch in the hospital cafeteria, and usually stopped somewhere to pick up dinner.
To burden other people with cooking for us seemed like a waste of their time in our opinions.
One day though, my parents brought us a loaf of homemade bread. Another day, my aunt and uncle brought us a full dinner. Those gestures were life-altering by that point. It felt so good to eat home-cooked food and to find a sense of normalcy in the chaos.
Little check-ins from loved ones were a huge help, too. It was nice to know that we weren’t alone through it all. Every day, we could count on at least one person sending a text to ask how things were going. On the good days, we were so excited to share the latest and greatest, but on the tough days, we were just so relieved to know that someone cared.
How to Help a Friend Who Says They Don’t Need Anything
In the most difficult of times, we do what we need to do to survive. Nobody wants to be a burden on their loved ones by asking for help. But, any emotional support, help with basic needs, and continued check-ins are always appreciated.
If someone you love is going through a particularly difficult time, the best way to help is simply to be there for them. Asking how you can help will likely not get you anywhere.
Jumping in and helping in these seemingly small ways will make a world of difference in their lives.