Jen M.

What to Do When You Don’t Know How to Help

Real life can be hard. Add type 1 diabetes, and sometimes it is just too hard for one person alone to handle. Thank heavens, there is often help. I want to share a way that I’ve been helped and have also recently been able to help another person. It’s a lovely thing that people can do for each other, and it’s almost universally helpful.

It’s the gift of a meal.

First I was the recipient of this gift. Craig, my husband, had pneumonia. He was out of the office for weeks. He couldn’t pick up my then 18-month-old daughter for months. He could hardly get out of bed, let alone get up and check James’ blood sugar during the night, or give me a break — ever. And then I got really sick. Thankfully, my illness required no hospitalization, and I could tell that after an acute phase I’d be fine. It just might have been one of those weekends where you’re counting the hours and saying “I can make it for two more hours” until finally the day is over. Somehow, I had made it through! James had in-range numbers, the little kids were sleeping, I got some rest, and my illness started to subside.

During that time a good friend visited me. She told me she was going to bring me some meals. I was very touched by the offer but really meant to decline. Honestly, I had already gotten through the crummy weekend. Meals might have been really appreciated then, when my illness was more intense, but by this time, I reasoned, I was almost better! Feeding my kids is no big deal. I’m a hero to them when I put a crummy meal on the table anyway. (Parents, try this sometime: Feed your kids cold cereal for dinner. Tell me if they don’t suddenly think you’re “the cool parent”!) But my friend really insisted on bringing those meals. And something in me let her. And it changed everything.

It’s such a small thing on the surface. Just one meal. But as a parent, as a mom, putting dinner on the table really does take a disproportionate amount of mental bandwidth. As the afternoon rolled on that first day, it was such a luxury to think that somebody else was bringing me food. And then the food came. It was brought by a community of good friends who just wanted to show their love, and the love could be FELT in the food. What a variety we got! Some store-bought, some lovingly made from scratch. It didn’t matter. The delivery was divine, and I was so grateful that I had accepted. It had been months since I had felt that whole. It healed my heart and helped make all the stresses of life — the diabetes, the pneumonia — seem manageable. I could lift my head up. It raised my hopes. Success seemed possible again.

Recently a friend of mine in the diabetes online community went through honestly a much more severe crisis. I’d like to say that it was my idea to do a meal train, but it wasn’t. It was the idea of yet another caring and considerate friend of the type 1 diabetes community. She used a website to set up a couple weeks of meals for this friend. I might add, I had only met this woman a few times in person. But because of my own positive experience, I happily signed up. To think I could bring relief to another person!

And let me tell you, it was almost as wonderful being on the other end. It was so nice to meet this gracious woman, struggling through her own trials as a mom of a recently diagnosed teen. What is remarkable is that while I felt sympathy and compassion for her before, now that I’d served her, I felt like our friendship was deeper. As a community, our attempt to shoulder some of her burden made us closer. And it made her response to the meal train effort that much more exciting!

Good things are happening in her life now, through some steps she handled on her own and with help from other people, not necessarily from us. Still, as she shares these joys, her gratitude and strength lift me up again. There is magic in a simple meal, and I am so grateful.

 

Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

 

Related topics:
People in the Know: How Can Friends Help Me?
Top 10 Things Never to Say to a T1D Parent
Answering the Question, “What Can I Do to Help?”

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