Financial struggles can be some of the most stressful and shameful situations to be in. They can also be some of the hardest and most heartbreaking ones to watch your loved ones go through. Either way, it is distressing, and at times leaves both sides feeling helpless.
We have been on both sides of this equation. We have been the ones struggling (read about that journey here), and also the ones watching our loved ones struggle. If I’m being honest, I don’t know which one is worse. It is such a sensitive and tricky situation when you know someone is struggling financially, because all you want to do is help, yet you want to be careful not to overstep.
We were so fortunate to be surrounded by so many friends and family that supported us along the way, and did so in such gentle ways. We never felt incompetent or belittled, but just that they were there to support and help us if we needed it.
Despite how hard it was to swallow our pride sometimes and accept the help, we could not have done it without their support.
Here are a few things that people did for us that were practical, helpful and appreciated, all while keeping healthy boundaries in tact:
- Show up – There were so many times that we wanted and needed people, but we were too wrapped up in everything going on to remember to reach out to people. Those that just showed up helped ground us and bring us back to reality.
- Watch their kids – If they have children, offer to take them for the day or an evening. There were so many times that we would find ourselves feeling guilty for not spending more intentional time with Shiloh, but we honestly just couldn’t in that season. It felt like we were always working late, talking finances, or picking up side jobs. Whenever someone offered to take her for a few hours, it was such an overwhelming relief.
- Gift cards – Gift cards are such a great way to give a little help, without flat out handing them cash or writing a check. (Don’t do that, that’s just awkward) Some sweet friends brought us gift cards to Chikfila and Target one night, and I don’t think they have any idea how much that meant to us. To be able to have a “normal” night out and buy something without feeling guilty is such a gift to give someone.
- Bring dinner over – Take care of a meal for them. Bring it into their home, and spend time with them. We had friends that cooked for us and brought dinner over. Anytime a meal was taken care of it was just that much more relieving, and again, having people in our home fed our souls more than we knew we needed.
I know that none of these seem like that much, but trust me, they mean the world. They are thoughtful and intentional, yet not overbearing.
Show up. Just be there for them. Especially if it is someone that you are close to, take them out for coffee or a beer. Enjoy a day out of the house just spending time together. Listen when they need to talk, but also be a source of escape for them. Odds are they don’t need more suggestions as to what to do, they are just scared and need someone to listen to and encourage them.
Be that source for them, and I promise you, they will never forget it.