Sometimes we wish we owned a magic wand, a handful of pixie dust, or you name it. Something that can magically help a friend or family member who is suffering. Wouldn’t that be nice, and convenient. We could send them this magic and their stress, problems, worries, or even pain would be gone. We care, we want you to be feeling better. So, just what might we send, purchase, or better yet create, to send this message of concern? Here are a few suggestions.
Consider that your effort should be less about the item you send or create and much more about how you may make your recipient feel. I think you are striving to evoke the feelings of being cared about, cared for, even from a distance. Experiencing pain, from a loss, for example, is held within each of us, our own way. The best others can usually do is show that the suffering is recognized and respected.
Friends in Good Times and Struggles
We enjoy enjoying our friends. We can share activities, events, meaningful thoughts and milestones. We should also be glad we can share struggles. While we generally can’t fix the problems facing our friend, maybe we can strengthen their means of facing the issues. Consider a gift that has a chance of bringing strength to your friend. Maybe it’s a nutritious meal, one that you know they have enjoyed in the past and simply would not be up to preparing now. Or, a basket filled with tea, known to evoke calm even just by looking at the mug.
Friends Suffering a Loss, but not Lost
A loss of a loved one, an unfulfilled dream caused by a miscarriage, or a broken promise, is very painful. Your friend or family member may be seeing this loss as a new normal in their life, tarnishing all joys. You can help with simple acts of kindness. Your suffering friend may not have the strength or will to answer your simple “what can I do for you?” question. Instead, show how much you know of them in good times, and simply do some nice things. How about some in-home straightening up, knowing that her private space is not private from you. Maybe you can offer a few ideas on how the space can honor the one she has lost while not taking over her need for comfort. One idea is to introduce some life into the room, in the form of a plant. You can suggest that this living object needs her attention, if only twice a week.
Friends Near and Then Far
Sometimes we have a tight group of family or friends that are forced to separate. Jobs, school, family life, and many other reasons create a physical separation. We all have learned this in the recent two years when our required separations spared many from contracting COVID-19 but created new pains. One way to “show up” is by the clever use of technology. Consider how the friend or family who had to separate will feel when they can literally hold in their hands video messages from the group. You can record your video messages and with the help of Heirloom video books send a beautiful book sure to reignite the bond.
Pets are Friends Too
I’ve surprised myself this year. When I have wanted to offer a gift to some people, I have discovered a new way to make them happy. I have sent a gift to their pet. Yes, their dog or cat. This can work for goldfish and parrakeets, too. I have noticed how surprised and appreciative they are to see that their pet, who has given them so much love and attention, is now being showered with love from others. So, when you want to make your pet owner-friend smile, go to the pet store.
Treat Loneliness with a Sharing Opportunity
Our elders are often the recipient of many loving gifts. My elder mother’s tiny apartment is full of coffee mugs, tote bags and art projects gifted by her family. The love flows off each object and that’s of course why she can’t part with a single piece. Imagine how glad I was when it occurred to me that while enjoying these objects, she was missing out on one of the best parts, the giving. I offered her a set of colored pencils and some art pictures. I suggested she create her own masterpiece and send them to her great-grandsons, aged five and below. They now have her artwork and love, and she knows that they are thinking of her when they study their displays. A sure treatment for some of her recent loneliness was born.