Do Not Stare Into the Beam or The Obvious way to be Helpful


Isn't this overstating the obvious? Or not, maybe that's exactly what we need.

Today is Capt Snuggles 1/2 birthday. Go, Baby!

Which means we’ve been incarcerated for 3 months now.  3 looooong months. 12 weeks since his transplant. 6 months since he arrived at this very hospital. Half way to the big 1.  1/2 of his life has been spent in this hospital. Alright already, I know, enough with the math, you get the idea.

So how have we made it this far? With laughter, tears and a little help from our friends (and family). It’s what families do. Grandma is indispensable, taking care of the boys, running back and forth, doing homework, keeping the little heathens alive. The sister-in-law’s have been taking turns being in charge of the Rain-man of  Trains and Hub, well Hub’s been doing his best to make sure the house is still standing for when we finally return home. Even the church ladies have helped out by bringing food over for Hub and the boys.

 And then there’s everyone else. Some people we know and some we don’t know very well. They all have one thing in common~ they have offered their help, or have they?

 Have you ever uttered the phrase “Is there anything I can do for you?”,  “Can I get you anything?”, “Is there anything you need?”  I’m sure at some point in your life, with the utmost sincerity, you have made this offer to someone. An obvious attempt at being helpful, much like that sign. (Which is real, btw. Much to my obvious amusement.)

It seems like a natural thing to say when someone is in an unfortunate situation. Hey, I’ll bet, sometimes we even mean it!  Because really, has anyone ever taken you up on that offer? I get any number of people asking me this question throughout the course of my day. Quite honestly, I’m not always sure how to respond. Politely, of course, but I’ve never actually accepted help from anyone, have you?

Nurses ask “Can I get you anything?”  Maybe. Got any chocolate? chinese takeout? No? okay then, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing you can get me. I know it’s part of your job to ask, but after 3 months, I think can get the soda myself.  Thank you anyway.

Doctors ask “Is there anything I can do for you?” Well yeah, fix Capt Snuggles. How hard is that? Okay, I concede our doctors are doing their best to fix him up, we are in one of the best hospitals in the country. So can I ask a doctor to get me a magazine, buy me a new Kindle, order me some chinese takeout? Probably not, and as you all know ~ I don’t read magazines anyway.

Chaplain asks “What can I do for you today?” I don’t know, we’ve already established that God has a weird sense of humor.  You’re the padre, do you really have a direct line to the man upstairs? If not, what can you do for me today? Probably not kosher to ask the Chaplain for chinese takeout.

Others will stop into our room and  ask these same questions. The reality of it is – what kind of answer do you expect when you offer to help someone? Do you think about possible answers when you ask this question? Other than our relatives and the lovely church ladies who took the initiative to bring the Hub food, no one has actually offered any tangible help.

No, that’s not true. My new friend T, who lives about an hour from the hospital, did offer to take time away from her family, her Hub and 3 kids, to sit with Capt Snuggles. Just so I could get home and see my boys for a few hours. Now that is what offering help is all about. Something specific, something tangible, something obvious.

I posed this question to another new friend of mine over at Etiquette From the Trenches (yes, she’s an etiquette maven, so please listen up) Her response: “I would keep a list of people who offer to help (with sincerity) and then call on them when needed. You can tell them that you appreciate the offer and will call them if there’s ever anything and then actually do it! …But, I’m like you … I never ask.  It would be more helpful for them to offer something specific, right?  Like to bring you dinner that’s not from the hospital or take your kids to see the new movie …. ”

Get that people? Something specific would be greatly appreciated. I know the doctors and nurses and various other people who actually work at the hospital may not be really offering their tangible help but friends and family and even acquaintances can take note and offer something real.

So, I’ll be keeping a list and checking it twice…you never know when I’ll be calling for my chinese takeout.

Have you helped anyone lately? Tell me about it. Did you see an obvious need and proffer tangible help or a generic catch-all offer? More importantly, did the person accept your offer of help?

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

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19 thoughts on “Do Not Stare Into the Beam or The Obvious way to be Helpful

  1. You know this is an interesting post. It made me think of work. People who are my leaders are always asking, “How can I help you?” And I think, “Well you could pay me my full paycheck and allow me to stay at home all day.” Now that would be the help I would really be looking for. Alas, I can not say what my twisted mind is thinking. So, I am with you. Don’t ask if you plan on hearing the need or answer. Do something genuine. Even if it is a kind word or hug. Be genuine.

  2. I love this post! If I were closer I’d be on my way with the Chinese takeout. Thanks for the reminder to be genuine and thoughtful when offering help.


  3. Hi! I am your newest twitter follower. I found you onthe blog hop! You can find me at

  4. Really loved reading this post. thanks.
    Following U from Blogfrog
    Enjoy Country Living

  5. If you can see that someone needs help, the best thing to do is to jump in and do it! Bring the meal…don’t wait for an invitation.

    I recently had an experience where someone genuinely helped me out, totally unexpected. It really made me feel like it’s important to pay these things forward!
    (I blogged about this experience:

  6. so true- don’t offer- do something! it really isthat simple. when a friend lost her husband to a heart attack, another woman we knew gave the similar suggestion: do something, because she’ll be so stressed the vague words will be a blur. Drop off a card stuffed w/singles (to tip delivery ppl), take out her garbage- show up & shovel the walkway– anything to make even the smallest of tasks go away for a while

  7. This is such a great post. Often I want to help but don’t know how. So thanks for giving some concrete ideas of what to offer.

    Following from Blog Frog.

  8. Thanks for join my Friday Blog hop.
    Have a nice weekend.

  9. WOW – This post, your life, really put things in perspective for me…
    I was about to blog about having too much “Want” for my “Can” – as in…I want to help EVERYONE but in the process I keep leaving my own family eating re-heated Little Cesears AGAIN…
    I digress – I WILL NOT stop helping – I will NO longer offer but I WILL start doing the things I CAN –

    I love the idea of the card with single for take out tips – BRILLIANT.

    I will spend the next hour TROLLING your blog and finding more about your incredible life.

    Thank you for reminding me what is really important.

    PS – love the sign…I will, especially when prompted not to do so, stare DIRECTLY into the beam.

  10. Capt. Snuggles 🙂 I stumbled into your big world and left in wonder. The best I can do is give you a big virtual pat on the back and say you are doing a great job! I guess you could start a wish list on your blog and let everyone know how they could help. If it were me, I’d ask for sleep.

  11. When my dad was sick I became keenly aware how many times I asked him that question. “Do you need anything?’ “Can I do anything to help?” “What do you need?” “What can I get you?” Each time was just my way of saying, “I’d make this all better right now if I could. But since I can’t… I just wish there was something else which would show you how much I care.”

    • You are so right – I get that people offer help because they care, but it’s also difficult to express that maybe there are things we’d like or need to have done that we’re to stubborn to ask for! Hope your dad has since recovered and is doing well. thanks for the comment!take care~

  12. Stopped by to say hello from the Meditative Mom blog hop. Have a great week ahead!

  13. I guess sometimes it is difficult to know what to say or how to help… what if I didn’t know you fancied a chinese takeaway? Or what I brought some sushi and what if you had just eaten?
    So when help is offered, I guess especially by friends, just tell them what would be helpful – if they don’t like it then they shouldn’t have asked you in the first place! 🙂
    (I am not very good at telling people either, and if somebody offers to help, or ask if I need anything, I will automatically say “no thanks, I’m fine”, but then I would regret it afterwards 🙂
    Great article though!

    • You are so right Asta, it is possible someone could offer something I didn’t need or want. But in the same token – I would be very touched and quite appreciative if someone did something nice,simply because they took the time to do it other than just asking the question, that like you ~ I’m going to say “No thanks, I’m fine”
      Thanks for stopping by!

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