Our world as we knew it has been obliterated. Our safe place has been disturbed or ruined, our routines disrupted, our immediate plans upheaved, and financial worries swell.
We need people.
Loved ones want to help, but they may not know what we need and we are so overwhelmed we don’t know what to say when they ask how they can help us. Here are practical tips to get you started.
- Allow People to Help You Prioritize. We may not know what we need after trauma. Advice from others can help us prioritize at a time when we can’t think straight. A friend, volunteer at a disaster relief center, or a counselor can sit with you and help you focus and prioritize. If we come up with a few ideas ahead of time, you will be able to respond when asked.
- Make a List of What You Need. Think about what is helpful and what isn’t.
- Services people could do: watch your children, take care of your pets, invite you for a home-cooked meal, make phone calls for you, research local services.
- Material goods: personal items, things to comfort your children, food, a tank of gas.
- Let People Know What You Need. Friends and loved ones want to support us, but they may not know how. They say things like, “Let me know how I can help.” With your list in hand, you can direct people who want to support you.
- Create a group email list of people you want to keep informed. During a crisis, our energy is limited. Phone calls, texts and emails can feel overwhelming. When you have an idea of how others can support you, send out a group email. Let people know you may not be able to respond to phone calls and emails until you get settled, but you would appreciate hearing from them. When we take responsibility for what we ask for, we can receive what we need and avoid frustration when people respond in a way that is not helpful.
- Assign a friend to be your spokesperson. You could also ask a friend to be your contact person and send email and or phone updates for you.
- Say Yes to support. A giver often has trouble receiving. If you are a giver you might feel awkward on the receiving end. Resist the urge to say you are fine. No one is fine after a natural disaster. Givers naturally think ‘So many people are worse off than me.’ Give yourself permission to accept offers of assistance. People who care want to support you. Helping you helps others too.