HELP: My neighbour was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, I don’t know how to support the family.
It’s wonderful that you want to help and there are countless ways to do so. I will forever be grateful for the generous support our neighbours provided my husband and me when he was ill. Your generosity will mean more than you will ever know.
It’s important to remember that just as you are at a loss for what help to offer, your neighbour is just as much at a loss.
While you ask yourself “What do they need? What can I offer? Will I bother them by offering?” They are asking themselves “What do I need? What can I ask for? Will I bother them by asking?”
Remove the awkwardness by offering specific things. Telling someone to “just ask for anything” is not that helpful for the above reasons.
Instead, whenever you have errands, send them a text or call: “I’m on my way to the grocery store, what can I pick-up for you?” “I’ll be stopping at the pharmacy; do you have any prescriptions waiting?” “Any books to be returned or on-reserved at the library?” “I’m getting some propane for my BBQ, do you need your tank refilled?”
Your neighbour will also be grateful for any help with household chores. In the case of outdoor chores, you don’t even need to ask, if you see it’s needed – just to do it.
They will be thankful if you rake their leaves, shovel their snow, mow their lawn, fill the bird feeders, put out the recycling and trash, weed their garden, wash windows or empty gutters.
If you know the children well enough, you can attend kids’ school events, help with carpooling. If you are close to the family pet, you can walk the dog and purchase pet food. You can help coordinate these tasks with other parents or neighbours.
The important thing is to offer what you can and follow through.