It can be very difficult to see a friend or family member going through a challenging time. Personally I’ve had a couple challenging experiences in the last few years and have seen a lot of people in my network go through challenges. Kids are sick, death in the family, loss of job, and so on.

As our friends and family go through this challenge we attempt to step in, help, and ask for what they need. Time and time again those in need may respond with “We’re good. We don’t need anything right now.” or ask for people to keep them in their thoughts and prayers. I know because that’s what I say when I’m going through a tough time. No worries, I’m good.

Except we’re not good. We’re sick, emotional, and battling with anxiety. In this article I share four ideas that you can do to help someone in need when they don’t specifically ask for help. These also depend on the relationship you have with the person and how long you’ve know them.

max in the hospital

My son in the hospital a couple years ago. We we’re so thankful for our family and friends who didn’t hesitate to jump in and help. When we weren’t sure what to ask for. 

1. Food

Food is amazing. It brings people together. If it tastes good we like to eat it. At the last party you attended you’ll most likely remember that people gathered near the food table. Food is magic and always a winner. Often people won’t ask for food during this time but don’t wait for them to ask. Just bring it.

If the food is packaged in a tupperware it can last for a long time. So if dinner the night you bring it is already coordinated, the recipient will definitely put it to use in a day or two. When I’ve gone through hard times my wife and I hate preparing food. We tend to eat out and thus creates more problems because our body is an emotional wreck now turning into a physical wreck.

Simply leave the dish on the doorstep, knock, and leave. Or wait for them to answer and let them know you were thinking of them and want to give them the goods. I don’t think anyone will ever turn away food when its handed to them. It’s one of the three basic needs to live so you shouldn’t have to worry about a possible decline.

Couple food ideas that should do the trick:

  • Homemade chicken noodle soup
  • Tamales
  • Pie with a tub of ice cream (YES!)
  • A fresh salad

2. Invite To Your Home

My favorite thing ever is when someone invites us to their house for dinner. And think about it this way, when you are the one hosting you’re taking on more of the responsibility; the entertainment, the food, the clean up, and wiping down the toilets that day.

If you keep the invite somewhat un-attached to the challenge they’re facing people will love to get out of their home (if possible) to get a break from preparing a dinner.

This is a simple and effective way to give them a break and yet something no one going through a rough time would ever ask for. What can I do for you? “Oh, please invite us over this weekend for dinner and games, that would be great!” No one will ever respond with that, but it’s absolutely what they need.

3. Pinterest and Facebook is Your New Best Friend

This one has some serious creepy factor to it so make sure you know this person well. Here’s the idea.

Follow your friend/families latest updates on Pinterest or Facebook and see if there’s anything that you could bring to life. Let’s say your friend pinned a DIY pvc marshmallow gun as an idea for their kids to make one day. Go buy all the materials and make one gun, and then leave them some materials to make another. Pinterest is great, but I feel like it’s the ultimate channel of ‘one day I’ll make that’ feed of ideas.

Make the ‘one day’ come to life for your friend. It’s creepy but could really be fun and lighten your recipients mood.

4. Text Messages and Phone Calls

Oh my word this one is so simple. Once you hear about the challenge your friend is facing, give it a day or two and send them a message or call them. You never know who is reaching out and if no one is, you might need to be the one to reach out and check on them.

I see a lot of people on facebook comment on posts saying “My thoughts and prayers are with you!”. Ok – I get it. But really are you kneeling down and praying for this person? My brother one time was looking for a job and my son starting praying for him to get the job. I texted my brother a couple times saying telling him what my son was doing and I think it probably had more impact than a public facebook comment.

Everyone copes with struggles differently but carving out 30 min to let your friend tell you what’s on their mind on the phone can really be helpful. And something know one will actively ask for.

root beer

My son from above enjoying an IBC root beer while on the mend from the hospital visit. Food is the best. 

So those are my ideas to help people in need who aren’t sure what to ask for. Let me know what your favorite tip is and if you have any ideas of how you help your friends and family facing a challenge.