When you have people in your life that you love, you know all too well how confusing it can be if you’re trying to help and support them. Every person is different, and the plethora of information on the web is largely contradictory. Beyond this, sometimes something that felt like it was improving their situation a few months ago might not feel like it applies anymore. The following will explore a few things that you can do to help better care for your loved ones.
Ask Them What They Need
This step cannot be skipped over; it is the single most important thing you can do to improve someone’s situation. Ask them what they need. It’s incredibly simple, but it can produce some stellar results. All too often, we imagine what we would feel and want and need in someone else’s shoes, forgetting that people are radically different. How many times in your life has someone given you advice that was clearly for themselves and not at all right for you? Exactly.
Ask your loved ones what they need. Then listen attentively. See what you can do to meet that need. Sometimes it’s as simple as your sister with three kids under the age of three needing someone to come by once a week and help with the laundry because she physically cannot keep up with it. Other times the answer is broader and more complicated. Perhaps your aging parent doesn’t want to feel like you’re humoring them all the time; no one likes being treated like a child, not even children. Whatever feedback you receive needs to be applied in all your further choices and actions.
Seek Outside Help
Sometimes a person’s needs are really heavy for family members. Sometimes what’s best is to reach out to a local service provider that can help with the particular thing your loved one is dealing with. There are doulas who put the needs and interests of an expecting woman at the forefront.
There are death doulas that help provide people with the conversations and support they need at the end. Do some research and find services to help improve quality of life in your area. If you’re having trouble finding something that feels right, speak to local healthcare providers; they tend to have caught wind of services that helped their patients in the past.
Take Time For Yourself
This point might seem counterintuitive, but it’s absolutely critical. If you’re providing care for someone you love, particularly if that care is more demanding than usual, you’re probably tired. You’re probably overworked. You’re probably feeling desperate and overwhelmed. It is vitally important that you take the time you need to recharge your batteries.
You can’t be patient or understanding when you’re so overtired your eyes hurt. You can’t be present and laugh and play along when you feel like you’ve been beaten up by life’s stressors. Do what you have to do to make sure you’re caring for yourself. You won’t help anyone if you’re twenty minutes away from snapping or bursting into tears.
Stop Hiding Things
This is a common, completely natural approach to dealing with a loved one that is struggling for whatever reason. People feel the need to put on a happy face and disguise their own struggles because they don’t want to add to anyone else’s burden. This is dangerously unhealthy. It harms you, your mental health, and your relationship with your loved one. Be honest with the people you care for.
If you’re tired, it’s okay to tell them you’re tired. If you’re having trouble at work or are worried about money, or are struggling in your relationship, it’s okay to be honest. Not only might you end up with some helpful advice or support, but your relationship will be strengthened because people can always sense something isn’t being said.
Likewise, speak to other family members honestly about the situation. It’s okay to say that someone had a bad night. Regularly express to those you love that it’s okay for them to describe things how they are. Suppression makes every pain more painful. It makes every struggle harder. Make it clear that no one needs to suppress anything; they’re not going to be judged.
The above tips should help you provide higher-quality, more authentic care to your loved ones. Life is messy and what people need is messy too. This doesn’t mean your relationships have to suffer. With the right approach, you and your loved ones will find a balance that works for everyone.