They say that hard times reveal great friendship and I felt this more than ever over the last couple of weeks. The support that swarmed around us during my husbands heart attack is what helped get us through it.
In the past, when I was on the other side, I wasn’t always sure what to do for others during emergency situations. Is it my place? Am I reaching out too much? Should I back off? These and other insecure questions would be on my mind but having gone through a crisis and been on the receiving end of incredible support, I now know the answers. Here’s what our friends and family did for us that made all the difference:
1. Show up. Having people there, sitting in the waiting room, was not underrated. We had lots of friends and family fly across the country, we had countless people at the hospital 24 hours a day (including those that slept in the waiting room) and even though they weren’t sitting in my husbands room with us, knowing they were out in the hallway gave us great strength. It also gave us a reason to walk outside, take a breath and receive much needed hugs.
2. Handle it. One of the things I learned about being in crisis is that the last thing you’re focused on is yourself. That’s where great friends and family come in. There was never ever a time when I needed something to eat, a fresh pair of clothes, another venti coffee or a shoulder to cry on. Everyone else was handling that for us, no questions asked. There was an endless supply of everything we could possibly need even though in that moment we weren’t aware of what we needed. We stayed hydrated, caffenaited, nourished and warm without having to leave the ICU.
3. Reach out. I’m always afraid to text or call or email people during emergencies because I don’t want to be a bother but through this experience I learned that you should always reach out. Showing someone that you care and are interested in helping is always a good thing. A few people started emails/texts with, “no need to write back but I want you to know….” which was helpful because there was no burden to write back if I couldn’t but the notes themselves were heart warming.
4. Brighten things up. Every bone in my body was tense while my husband was in the ICU and those brief moments of comedic relief gave me the chance to slightly decompress. It’s perfectly ok to try to cheer someone up by cracking a little joke.
5. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. If someone you love is in a crisis, you ultimately then feel as though you are too. It’s perfectly ok to let down your guard, be vulnerable and cry together. I didn’t need everyone to be strong for me. I needed everyone to just be.
A special and heartfelt thank you to all our family and friends who helped get us through this. You were so unbelievably and selflessly supportive and I don’t know what I would do without you. I love you. Thank you.