This week, my family has been dealing with the loss of a young relative, and everybody is scrambling to help her closest kin to just get through each day. Today, this reminded me of something…often, when people we love are having hard times, we wonder what we can do for them. And one of the most useless things we say (even though we say it with love and total truthfulness) is, “Let me know what I can do.”
Many of my friends, I know, are pretty tech-savvy. At least, we’re more tech-savvy than many others. We have posted things on the internet since the mid-1990s (and some of us to proto-internet servers well before then), we know how to work software, we know how to program VCRs and video chat. We know where people gather on social media and how to research using Google and other online tools.
When our loved ones are in crisis, these seemingly easy, unimportant things can become overwhelming, and it’s something nobody really thinks to ask help with. Often, people who aren’t all that technically intuitive will give up on some tech errands altogether because they just look impossible, and other things are more important.
So have a list handy in your head of things you can do for people who may need it. I can’t cook a decent casserole to save my life, and I’m not the uncle folks will ask to watch the kids for a weekend, but I can scan your photos, find directions and print maps, conference call in all the relatives from Portland, and send out e-mail invitations. I know how to unlock your phone and haggle with the folks at Verizon over a bill that should have been discharged due to circumstances.
I’m terrible at saying just the right thing in person, but I can mail merge a thank-you note and send it to Staples for printing. I know how to format a thumb drive and make a zip file of important documents to send to the lawyers.
I know my friends are good at this too. So the next time you are thinking, “I should let this hurting person I love know I can help,” maybe you’ll now know that you have tons to offer. We nerdy people sometimes don’t make the right gestures, but sometimes tapping away at a keyboard off in the corner can help, if even just a little bit, with making life a little more bearable when things go wrong.