What can you say to someone experiencing a tragedy and what can you do if you want to help?
As the devastation of Hurricane Harvey continues to unfold, those who sit in compassion and disbelief often want to help but don’t know where to begin. I have friends who have been personally affected by many different tragedies, including Hurricane Harvey. For me, this hurricane hit very close to home, and some of my own family have been forced to take refuge in other parts of the state. Those living in Houston and along the coast are in shock as they watch their property completely destroyed.
Here are a few suggestions to help someone through a catastrophic event.
There are a number of organizations committed to sending supplies, including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. There are many others you can contribute to, but make sure you are giving money to a credible agency where you are certain the funds will be used for those most in need.
Any time there is an emergency of this magnitude there will be an outcry for people to rally and donate blood. Contact the Red Cross or your local Blood & Tissue Center.
Thousands of people and their pets are currently seeking shelters throughout the state. In many cases, pets must be separated and housed elsewhere. Pet shelters are always seeking volunteers and this is a prime opportunity to offer assistance.
If you know of a family who needs a temporary place to stay, consider offering your home for a short period of time. Additionally, Airbnb is offering free accommodations to evacuees.
Check on Your Neighbors
You may not be in the middle of the storm, but bad weather, rain and wind can affect those who can’t get out to buy food and medication. Power outages are also a consideration, and the young, frail and elderly are most affected. Reach out to those in close proximity and ask if you can run errands or get them essentials while you are out. It’s heartwarming to see how neighbors are helping neighbors.
Be Sensitively Aware
It’s easy to make light of a situation by saying things like, “Having a Hurricane Party – BYOB”, but keep in mind that many people reading your post have loved ones who are overcome and overwhelmed by their loss. You may appear unintentionally insensitive or self-serving by attempting to add humor.
If you know someone who has lost their home or property in the hurricane, don’t forget to stay in touch. Calling and being present after the storm is important to those who will be mourning their loss in the months ahead. It’s human nature to shy away from difficult conversations. But letting your loved one know you are there for them, whatever they need, is an important part of healing.
- Ask if there is anything you can do.
- Reach out: Offer clothing, food, blankets, medical supplies, gift cards, a hug and emotional support.
- Follow up.
- Say, “I know how you feel.” You don’t and it comes across as insensitive and dismissive.
- Act as if nothing is wrong.
- Turn the conversation back to a time when you went through a similar experience.
For more of Diane’s etiquette tips, read her posts on Inc., subscribe to her articles on HuffPost, “like” The Protocol School of Texas on Facebook, and follow her on Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter. Buy her new book, Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.