The Vine: October 10, 2012
So, we just found out that a member of our extended family has Stage IV cancer. #$%^&.
She's planning on fighting it, but the prognosis is pretty grim, and she has a long, hard road ahead. She's married and has four small children — the eldest is only 9 years old.
So, my question for you and the readership is: does anyone have ideas for how we can help, given that we live several states away? If we lived in the same area, I'd be all about meals and child care — but that's not an option given the distance.
I'm so sorry to hear that.
You could offer to coordinate some things via a Google doc or password-protected Tumblr, for people who are more local — meal schedules, babysitting schedules, carpool, reminders for bill-paying or diaper service or whatever other administralia may get lost in the shuffle.
If that feels presumptuous, look into gift certificates for Delivery.com (or whatever similar service might exist near them), or for a local chain of restaurants or pizza places, so they can skip thinking about cooking. Also, Google things like "virtual assistant" or "housecleaning service," and get Dad a handful of appointments for maid service or what have you. A lot of these online-assistant services will just take care of little chores and errands he might not have time to think about.
Or you could start a Kickstarter for just the family and close friends, and make it for whatever you'd like: kid stuff (formula, diapers, binkies, babysitting); pop-culture distractions for your cousin, like DVDs or a Kindle; ancillary or hospice care (God forbid, of course, but if the outlook is really that dire…).
You've heard a million times that in situations like this, "anything I can do, let me know" is not helpful — but at the same time, sometimes people who are facing a medical fight (or grieving the end of one) are too shell-shocked to give you specifics. The best place to start is calling over there and talking to someone who's around all the time, to get an idea of what's really needed. Then act on it, but in as flexible and easy-to-execute a way as possible (i.e. the immediate family won't have to do/think about anything).
Readers, feel free to chime in. Sad, best of luck to your family.
Tags: health and beauty the fam