I have put together 15 ways you can use to help families that are going through quarantine and have a member sick with coronavirus. I know you might know somebody that’s sick and you have no idea what to do or to say. Don’t worry, I got you.
COVID-19 has knocked on our door. My husband tested positive, he’s isolated and my two sons and I are in absolute quarantine, in other words, we’re not allowed to get out of the house and nobody can see us until my husband is symptoms free and the Health Department authorizes us. It has been very hard, scary, and lonely because of the uncertainty and the isolation.
What has helped the most is the love, the care and actions of our families, friends, neighbors and the community. I have thought about what they might feel when they want to help. In my experience so far, and the experience of other families that are going through the same I have researched, these are the 15 ways you can help them the best.
1. Do something you think is helpful without asking. Remember they can’t go out. That changes all the family dynamics. Simple things like going to the supermarket, the pharmacy, to have a coffee. The family or the people that are going through these hard times are overwhelmed, scared, concerned, confused, not knowing yet what to do and how to adopt to the protocols. When people say with all the good intentions, “If you need something please let me know,” it makes them feel shy or a burden, or puts pressure on thinking about how somebody can help. Especially, they feel that they are exposing others in order to help them and that makes them feel responsible for anything that can happen to them because going to the supermarket “one sec” it’s enough to get the virus. When you just do something without asking like bring a dish of cooked food and leave it by the door, buy toiletries, or check the mail, mown the lawn, or take the dog out, etc., you take a big weight off of their shoulders. You also make them feel loved, cared and less lonely.
2. Start a group chat or Facebook group. These groups can help to leave messages of love, support and encouragement. Share information, articles and updates from reliable sources. This way they have the freedom to check when they feel emotionally and physically able. It also creates a community of supporting people. This support it’s like a vessel of love. Also, they can let everybody know the evolution of the situation at the same time.
3. Small gestures. Maybe a nice box or basket by the door as a “personal greeting wishes and goodies keeper.” People can leave cards, notes, flowers, chocolates, cookies, magazines, books, puzzles or anything you think can help them to feel loved, less lonely, not forgotten and entertained.
4. Donations. There’re many ways to help this way within your possibilities. Remember they can’t go out, they might not be able to work and the medical expenses. Groceries with the things that they may like, remember allergies or sensitivities the might suffer from. Gift cards for gas, or grocery store, or for whatever they might need. Maybe a fundraising in the community or neighbors.
5. Home made food. Bringing something you cooked is the nicest feeling for people that are in Quarantine. There’s so much love you can give through a nice meal.
6. Restrain yourself from offering advice. They are already doing their best, adapting to a new routine, dealing with their fears, following the recommendations of the doctors, learning how not get contaminated, keeping everything sterilized. Everybody has the best intentions to explain what works the best like recipes, remedies, when to get a shower, what to do or not to do, etc. Imagine all the friends, family members and others doing this. It gives them the sense they’re not doing anything right, it makes them question themselves about making fatal mistakes or incapable of doing a good job.
7. Tell them compliments. They will appreciate this deeply because they are doing their best and they’re scared of not doing a good job. “You’re doing so such a good job,” “I admire you how you’re handling everything,”
8. Check on them. It’s absolutely normal to care and ask for the person that’s sick. Everyone wishes the sick member a speedy recovery. The caregivers have a huge responsibility to keep them comfortable, loved while caring for everything they need like food, etc. The caregivers, those that are around are scared and in constant tension even though they try their best. It’s very nice when you ask them how they’re doing that day? How are they feeling that day? Giving them a space and permission to express their feelings freely. That helps to release anxiety and give them strength to keep going.
9. Don’t believe that they don’t need anything. This phrase is very common in these circumstances, “let me know if you need anything,” or asking them “do you need anything?” They don’t want to impose or feel they are a burden to others. So instead be specific if you really can do something, “I’m cooking for you tomorrow, do you want chicken soup or pasta with meatballs?” “I’m bringing you this or that.” This will make them less lonely and less scared. And less shy to ask for help.
10. Validate their feelings. Please don’t say “Everything happens for a reason” or “I know what you’re going through,” if you really haven’t gone through that. Acknowledge and validate that they’re going through a difficult situation.
11. Take off pressure. When you leave a text or a message or send an email, make sure you say they don’t have to respond. Your message will help them to go through the day even more if they don’t feel the responsibility or the need to respond. When you do something for them to help like groceries, or cooking please let them know you’re not expecting a thank you note. It’s not a favor, you’re truly supporting during hard times and what they need is to feel free from should and musts.
12. Watch these comments. “Cheer up,” “you’re fine,” “he’s fine,” “the situation is hard for everybody,” “don’t worry, everything is going to be ok.” “Don’t worry,” is the hardest when you really don’t know. When the number of cases raise every minute, when the number of deaths rise every day. Those fears should be acknowledged because they are real. These types of comments can make them feel guilty or ashamed for the way they feel, or criticized or even ungrateful because it could be worse. Try to use expressions of comfort, “I hear you,” “I see you,” “I’m here for you,” “I can’t imagine what you’re going through,” “you’re doing your best,” “I love you.”
13. We’re still here. Remember that this is a long process and while others will continue, thank God, with their lives (keeping social distancing please, stay home) they will be still in quarantine. Don’t forget they can’t get out, that they are isolated. Maybe you can put a plan in place with neighbors and the community for a few weeks or the time they’ll be isolated.
14. Toxic positive. Don’t say, “think positive.” They need permission to make a space for their feelings, the real feelings and be ok with it. Not feeling weak or less or ungrateful for not being able to think nice beautiful positive thoughts all the time.
15. The loneliness can be worse than the COVID-19. Find the way to make them feel you’re there. If you can or want, say “I love you, I’m here for you.”
[Please scroll down to add your comments]