SUPPORTING LOVED ONES THROUGH A HEALTH CRISIS
When the life of a loved one is suddenly impacted by serious illness or injury, all we want to do is make things better. It’s so hard to know where to start, what to say and how to make their journey through this time less uncomfortable.
Receiving a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness or experiencing a serious injury is instantly life-changing. Everything is wonderful one moment and scary and uncertain the next. As it was in June 2017 which was set to be an exciting time for Daphne and Allary Ben as they celebrated their wedding and the beginning of their new life together. However, within days of their marriage, Daphne was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer and shortly after that, Allary was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Suddenly, they began a very different journey than they dreamed for their new marriage.
Daphne shared that this time in her life has been a “humbling experience”. As she and her new husband have gone through their individual cancer treatments, they have been very tired yet still had to work. They had to make choices about where they would put their energy. It had to go to their jobs to pay their bills, so it wasn’t going to be used taking care of things at home. They are especially thankful to have found much support through their friends and family, some of whom are also battling cancer.
When you don’t know what to do to help someone going through a health challenge, try to avoid saying, “let me know if I can help”, because they likely won’t. It helps to anticipate their needs and to give tangible, much needed support without being asked. Daphne suggests it really helps when people provide a listening ear, provide a meal or to just be supportive in any way. Helping to connect loved ones with support resources or organizations can be a huge blessing when precious energy is sapped. One thing that really helped Daphne is when her friend and co-worker introduced her to Cleaning for a Reason.
Cleaning for a Reason, based in Lewisville, TX is an international non-profit serving women with cancer. In partnership with more than 1,200 maid services throughout the United States and Canada, they provide free house cleaning to meet the needs of women. Since 2006, the partnership of Cleaning for a Reason has provided over $8 million in free services helping more than 28,000 women with cancer.
A local partner with Cleaning for a Reason is Jeannie & Co. which joined the organization in 2017. “Our company is dedicated to helping make life easier for the families we serve”, said Jeannie Henderson, co-owner of Jeannie & Company, “Partnering with Cleaning for a Reason gives us the opportunity to give the gift of a clean home to women at a time when they really need it.” Each Cleaning for a Reason partner serves up to two patients per month. Each patient receives two free cleaning visits.
Jeannie & Co. provided free cleaning for Daphne and her husband. Daphne said, “It was amazing! It gave me some relief and was one less thing to think about.” She called the Jeannie & Co. staff “angels” and wants them to know they have been a God-send. She added, “I hope that other patients will be able to receive what I have.”
There are countless ways to support your loved ones through times of serious illness. Be thoughtful and creative…here are some idea starters:
• If you feel comfortable, offer to communicate on their behalf to family and friends • Text them when you’re at the store to ask what you can pick up for them • Take them out for a movie, coffee, lunch date or just a walk on a nice day • Offer to give them a ride to their treatments and other appointments • Gift a magazine subscription or give them a good book • Send them a card or randomly send them texts or emails letting them know you’re thinking of them • Offer to take their kids out with friends or take their pet for a walk • Send them a silly joke or photo to bring a smile to their day • Give them a comfy blanket or sweater to keep them warm during treatments – it’s like a long-lasting hug • Stop in to see them whenever they are up for it
Continuing relationships and regular activities after a diagnosis or injury are very helpful to further the healing process. Remember that your loved ones will need encouragement and support even after their treatment has finished. This is the time when they will be trying to find their “new normal” and your involvement will be an important part of that. Any support you give will make a lasting difference in their life.
To learn more about Cleaning for a Reason and apply for free house cleaning, see www.CleaningForAReason.org
Jeannie Henderson owns and operates Jeannie & Co. with her husband, Terry. Jeannie & Co. provides personalized home and real estate cleaning services in the Kalamazoo County area. The Jeannie & Co. team loves to help families have more free time to spend doing what they love to do. The Hendersons live in Texas Township and have two children, Julie and Travis.