We say it to our friends, family and mere acquaintances when they’re going through the valley times of life. With Facebook, I read those words everyday. Just this morning, two different people I know posted of deaths in their immediate family. Their Timelines were filled, one after the other, with friends offering condolences followed by: “Let me know if you need anything”.
I resisted the urge to reply to each consoling comment….They need something. But they’re not going to ask for your help.
Recently, my cousin’s mom died, unexpectedly. A few weeks later, her husband lost his battle with cancer…(but he went out fighting like a champion). In the middle of these tragic life events, Denise was also planning and preparing for some of life’s most celebrated moments: Her daughter’s wedding and her son’s graduation from high school; his registration for freshman year of college.
She needed things. She needed something. I know she did. But she never asked.
I’m guilty of saying to her, “Let me know if you need anything.” She said she would, but she didn’t. And I understand. I wouldn’t have asked or told either. It’s difficult for me to ask for help. I think it must be for most of us. It isn’t a matter of not being able to admit we need help; no, we simply don’t want to inconvenience others.
Not long ago, someone I know became a widower. He and his wife attended a large church, they had been members of the church for several years. When she died I went to the funeral home, expecting a large crowd from their church. But the church crowd was missing. One couple from their church had visited, they brought a cake or a pie. Except for the pastor, no one from their church attended the funeral. A few weeks later, the widower, elderly and now living alone, announced in church he would have surgery the upcoming week. No one brought him meals. Yet many, during his wife’s death and before his surgery, had said, “Let me know if you need anything”.
We feel better when we speak words of comfort to the hurting; we beseech the grieving to call us in their time of need. Who are we? A loved one is in the middle of a raging storm and we ask them to call us?
May I suggest we change our approach? People appreciate our sympathetic comments and good intentions. But really, what good are intentions if not followed by actions? If someone you know is going through a difficult time, just know they need your help, and do something to ease their stress.
Accidents, illness, tragedy and death don’t come calling when we have everything in order, shiny and spiffed up. They come in the middle of the night, when your laundry basket is full and your grass needs mowing; death knocks when your cupboards and fridge are empty, and your floors need to be swept, when clothes need to picked up from the cleaners; when children need to be fed.
Moving forward, when life happens to my friends and family, I’m doing what I’ve watched my friends Rich and Angie Alexandersen and TC Chassay Zimmerman and an anonymous family member do numerous times. Show up. I have never heard them say, “Let me know if you need anything”. Instead, they understand that you will need something, and then they show up. Whether anyone asked or not.
**I’m very fortunate, I have several family and friends that Show Up in my life. I’ve learned so much about friendship, family, love and the real Church from them. **
Let’s all Show Up today.