The thing about an emergency is that time doesn’t stand still. Once you’ve dealt with the immediate crisis, you’ll find a whole new set of details waiting for you, most of which have to do with ongoing daily needs. Who is going to sit with your child at the hospital? Who is going to prepare meals for those left at home? Who is going to feed and walk the dog, or collect the mail? You simply can’t be everywhere at once, nor can you think of everything right now. This is where your community support team comes in—and now is the time to start gathering them, while the crisis is fresh in everyone’s minds. The following tips should help you build an effective support system without overburdening or overtaxing anyone.
Immediate Family and Friends
The people closest to you will usually be the first people to step up and help—and they’ll also be the ones you’re most comfortable asking for help. These are the people whom you’ll trust to take turns sitting with your child around the clock, the ones you can call to make a run to the drive-through or to get you a cup of coffee from the hospital cafeteria.
To ease the burden, come up with a list of things that need to be done— everything from sitting in the hospital, feeding the other kids, to walking your dog. Then ask people to sign up for tasks, organizing themselves in shifts—so you know everything’s taken care of, but no one feels overwhelmed. And you can go grab a nap in the waiting room, without feeling guilty for doing so.
If you attend church or synagogue, or are a regular member of other community groups, these may provide much-needed support. Similarly, parents and others at your child’s school or PTA may want to help. Call the relevant office, let them know what happened: If you feel comfortable, ask if they have suggestions on where you might turn for assistance, if they don’t have any programs they can offer. Also, if you or a family member is in the military, the Red Cross will provide help in times of a family emergency.
Accepting Offers of Help
As word spreads through your community, you’re likely to get calls or Facebook messages with the statement, “If there’s anything I can do….” Enjoy the expressions of morale support, but also be willing to take people on their offers. And the best time to ask for help is when they offer because that’s when they are most attuned to your situation. If they offer to cook a meal for your family and your family could legitimately use a meal, feel free to accept graciously. If you receive offers of financial help during the crisis, it’s okay to accept them—just try to have someone document all such gifts (i.e., amounts and from whom), so you have a record of them.
There are websites such as Lotsa Helping Hands and CaringBridge, where you can easily create a specific webpage to update your support system, inform them of news, and coordinate their help. There are also a number sites designed to help with fundraising: GoFundMe has a specific guide on setting up a page for the financial costs of a family emergency.
And if you feel overwhelmed, or simply can’t deal with the distraction, designate a trusted friend or family member as the point person who can coordinate those gifts, manage that website, send updates on everyone’s wellbeing, etc.
Of course, hiring a good personal injury attorney is also a critical part of your support team, especially after an accident involving a child. For a free consultation, call Greathouse Trial Law at (888) 353-1458.