How to ask for help when chronic pain or illness strikes

By, Toni Bernhard, JD September 2011

How many times have you said to a friend or relative in need, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help,” and when you didn’t hear back, fail to follow-up? I’ve lost count of the number of times I did just that—fail to follow-up when I didn’t hear back from someone in need, even though I would have been happy to help in any way I could.

Yet, despite this pattern in my own behavior, when I became chronically ill and didn’t get back to people who offered to help, I decided that, because they failed to follow-up, their offers weren’t sincere.

I learned otherwise quite by chance. A friend came to visit and showed me an exquisite handmade dress she’d just bought for her granddaughter at a local boutique. When I told her how much I loved it, she asked if I’d like to get one for my granddaughter. I said “sure,” and before I could get “but I’m not able to go shopping” out of my mouth, she was out the door.

She returned shortly with the dress in two sizes for me to choose from. I picked one, wrote her a check and, [...] continue the story