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6 alternatives to saying 'let me know if you need anything' to someone in crisis

If someone is drowning, you don't wait for them to ask for help. You just take action.

woman crying with her hand on a rainy window

People going through major struggles don't always know what they need or how to ask for help.

When we see someone dealing with the loss of a loved one or some other major life crisis, it's instinctual for many of us to ask how we can help. Often, the conversation looks something like this:

Us: I am SO sorry you're going through this. What can I do to help?

Person in crisis: I honestly don't know right now.

Us: Okay…well…you let me know if you need anything—anything at all.

Person in crisis: Okay, thank you.

Us: I mean it. Don't hesitate to ask. I'm happy to help with whatever you need.

And then…crickets. The person never reaches out to take you up on the offer.


Was it that they didn't really need any help, this person going through a major life crisis? Unlikely. As sincere as our offer may have been, the problem may be that we didn't really offer them what they actually needed.

One of those needs is to not have to make decisions. Another is to not have to directly ask for help.

When a person is in a state of crisis, they can feel like they're drowning. They might be disoriented and fatigued, and doing anything other than keeping their head above water long enough to breathe can feel like too much.

If someone is drowning, you don't ask them what you can do to help or wait for them to ask. You just take action.

Here are some specific ways you can take action to help someone who you know needs help but isn't able or willing to ask for it:

1. Make them food

It may be tempting to ask if you can make them a meal and wait for them to say yes or no, but don't. Simply ask if they or anyone in their household has any dietary restrictions, and then start shopping and cooking.

Meals that can be popped in the refrigerator or freezer and then directly into the oven or microwave are going to be your best bets. Include cooking or reheating instructions if it's not obvious. Disposable aluminum trays are great for homemade freezer-to-oven meals and can be found at just about any grocery store. Casseroles. Stir fried rices. Soups. Comfort foods.

If you don't cook, you can buy them gift cards to local restaurants that deliver, or give them a DoorDash or UberEats gift certificate (large enough to cover the delivery, service fees and tip as well, which combined can be as much as a meal sometimes).

lasagna in the oven

Easy-prep meals people can throw in the oven are great.

Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash

Even better—organize a meal train

If you want to make it a community-wide effort and no one else has done so yet, set up a "meal train," where different people sign up for different days to bring meals to spread out the food help over time. There are several free websites you can use for this purpose, including Give In Kind, Meal Train, and Take Them a Meal. These sites make it super easy for anyone with the personalized link to sign up for a meal.

someone scrubbing a pot in a kitchen sink

There are always dishes to wash.

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

2. Clean their kitchen and/or bathrooms

Kitchens are always in use, and keeping up with dishes, especially in a house full of people, is a challenge even under normal circumstances. Same with keeping the refrigerator cleaned out. Same with cleaning the bathroom.

Rather than asking if they want it done, as many people won't want to say yes even if they would appreciate the help, try saying something like, "I want to come and make sure your kitchen is ready for you to make food whenever you want to and that your bathroom is a clean space for you to escape to whenever you feel like it. Is Tuesday or Wednesday at 1:00 better for you?"

The fewer complex decisions a person in crisis has to make the better, so saying, "Is this or that better?" rather than offering open-ended possibilities can be helpful.

woman folding clothes

There is always laundry to fold, too.

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

3. Do laundry

Offer to sit and chat with them, let them vent if they need to…and fold their laundry while you're at it.

Are they the kind of people who might be embarrassed by you seeing or handling their underclothes? Fine. Wash, dry and fold towels or bedsheets instead. Just keep the laundry moving for them.

And if it doesn't feel appropriate or desirable for you to do their laundry at their house, you can offer a pick-up laundry service, either yourself or an actual hired service. Tell the person to put bags or bins of laundry at the door and you (or the service) will come pick it up and bring it back clean and folded the next day. That's a great way to be of service without feeling like you're intruding.

man pulling food and toilet paper out of the car

Offer to pick stuff up when you're on a grocery run.

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

4. Run errands for them

"Hey, I'm heading out to the store, what can I grab you while I'm there?" is always a welcome phone call or text. Let them know when you're going to be running your own errands and see if there's anything they need dropped at the post office, picked up from the pharmacy, or anything else.

You can also offer to run errands with them. "Hey, I've got some errands to run. Do you want to join me?" They may have no desire to leave the house, or they may desperately want to leave the house, so be prepared for either answer, but the offer is solid. Even just not having to drive might be a relief if they have things they need to pick up or drop off places.

woman holding hands with a small child as they walk

Caring for someone's kids is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

5. Provide childcare

If the person is a parent, taking their kid(s) out for a chunk of the day can be a big help. Caring for yourself is hard when you're going through a difficult time, and the energy a person might use to actually do that often gets usurped by caring for others. Obviously, parents can't just neglect their children, so anything you can do to relieve them of that responsibility for a while is gold.

Offering to take the kids to do something fun—a day at the park, ice skating, etc. is even better. A parent knowing their kid is safe, occupied and happy is its own form of relief.

6. Ask what they're struggling with and focus your help there

While all of these practical household things are helpful, there might be some people who find comfort or solace in doing those things themselves. If that's the case, talk with them about what their immediate needs are and what they're having a hard time dealing with. Then focus your energies there. "What can I do to help?" may not be as effective a question as "What are you having a hard time doing right now?" They may not know what kind of help they need, but they probably know how they're struggling.

One person might be lonely and just want some company. Another person might need a creative outlet or a mindless distraction or something physical like going for a walk or a hike. Someone else might have pets they need help caring for, a garden that need tending or the oil changed in their car. Someone might even need a person to serve as a shield or buffer between them and all the people coming to offer their condolences.

Note that many of these things are basic life maintenance stuff—those are often the things that get hard for people when they're dealing with the emotional and logistical stuff surrounding whatever they're going through, and they're often the easiest things other people can do for them. A time of crisis is not a normal time, so normal etiquette, such as asking if you can or should do something rather than just letting them know you're going to do it, doesn't always apply.

If there's a specific thing with specific tasks, such as planning a funeral, that might be a good opportunity to ask how you can help. But people deep in the throes of grief or struggle often need someone to the reins on basic things without being asked to. Again, there's a good chance they feel like they're drowning, so don't wait for an invitation. Just grab the life preserver, put it around them and do whatever needs to be done to get them to shore.


This article originally appeared on 2.5.24

Photos from Tay Nakamoto

Facebook is no longer just your mom’s favorite place to share embarassing photos.

The social media platform has grown in popularity for young users and creators who enjoy forming connections with like-minded individuals through groups and events.

Many of these users even take things offline, meeting up in person for activities like book clubs, brunch squads, and Facebook IRL events, like the recent one held in New York City, and sharing how they use Facebook for more than just social networking.

“Got to connect with so many people IRL at an incredible Facebook pop up event this past weekend!” creator @Sistersnacking said of the event. So many cool activities like airbrushing, poster making + vision boarding, a Marketplace photo studio, and more.”

Tay Nakamoto, a designer known for her whimsical, colorful creations, attended the event and brought her stunning designs to the public. On Facebook, she typically shares renter-friendly hacks, backyard DIY projects, and more with her audience of 556K. For the IRL event, she created many of the designs on display, including a photobooth area, using only finds from Facebook Marketplace.

“Decorating out of 100% Facebook Marketplace finds was a new challenge but I had so much fun and got it doneeee. This was all for the Facebook IRL event in NYC and I got to meet such amazing people!!” Nakamoto shared on her page.


Also at the event was Katie Burke, the creator of Facebook Group “Not Wasting My Twenties.” Like many other recent grads at the start of the pandemic, she found herself unemployed and feeling lost. So she started the group as a way to connect with her peers, provide support for one anopther, and document the small, everyday joys of life.

The group hosts career panels, created a sister group for book club, and has meetups in cities around the US.

Another young creator making the most of Facebook is Josh Rincon, whose mission is to teach financial literacy to help break generational poverty. He grew his audience from 0 to over 1 million followers in six months, proving a growing desire for educational content from a younger generation on the platform.

He’s passionate about making finance accessible and engaging for everyone, and uses social media to teach concepts that are entertaining yet educational.

No matter your interests, age, or location, Facebook can be a great place to find your people, share your ideas, and even make new friends IRL.

Pop Culture

What is 'Generation Jones'? The unique qualities of the not-quite-Gen-X-baby-boomers.

This "microgeneration" had a different upbringing than their fellow boomers.

Generation Jones includes Michelle Obama, George Clooney, Kamala Harris, Keanu Reeves and more.

We hear a lot about the major generation categories—boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z and the up-and-coming Gen Alpha. But there are folks who don't quite fit into those boxes. These in-betweeners, sometimes called "cuspers," are members of microgenerations that straddle two of the biggies.

"Xennial" is the nickname for those who fall on the cusp of Gen X and millennial, but there's also a lesser-known microgeneration that straddles Gen X and baby boomers. The folks born from 1954 to 1965 are known as Generation Jones, and they've been thrust into the spotlight as people try to figure out what generation to consider 59-year-old Vice President Kamala Harris.

Like President Obama before her, Harris is a Gen Jonesernot exactly a classic baby boomer but not quite Gen X. Born in October 1964, Harris falls just a few months shy of official Gen X territory. But what exactly differentiates Gen Jones from the boomers and Gen Xers that flank it?


"Generation Jones" was coined by writer, television producer and social commentator Jonathan Pontell to describe the decade of Americans who grew up in the '60s and '70s. As Pontell wrote of Gen Jonesers in Politico:

"We fill the space between Woodstock and Lollapalooza, between the Paris student riots and the anti-globalisation protests, and between Dylan going electric and Nirvana going unplugged. Jonesers have a unique identity separate from Boomers and GenXers. An avalanche of attitudinal and behavioural data corroborates this distinction."

Pontell describes Jonesers as "practical idealists" who were "forged in the fires of social upheaval while too young to play a part." They are the younger siblings of the boomer civil rights and anti-war activists who grew up witnessing and being moved by the passion of those movements but were met with a fatigued culture by the time they themselves came of age. Sometimes, they're described as the cool older siblings of Gen X. Unlike their older boomer counterparts, most Jonesers were not raised by WWII veteran fathers and were too young to be drafted into Vietnam, leaving them in between on military experience.

Gen Jones gets its name from the competitive "keeping up with the Joneses" spirit that spawned during their populous birth years, but also from the term "jonesin'," meaning an intense craving, that they coined—a drug reference but also a reflection of the yearning to make a difference that their "unrequited idealism" left them with. According to Pontell, their competitiveness and identity as a "generation aching to act" may make Jonesers particularly effective leaders:

"What makes us Jonesers also makes us uniquely positioned to bring about a new era in international affairs. Our practical idealism was created by witnessing the often unrealistic idealism of the 1960s. And we weren’t engaged in that era’s ideological battles; we were children playing with toys while boomers argued over issues. Our non-ideological pragmatism allows us to resolve intra-boomer skirmishes and to bridge that volatile Boomer-GenXer divide. We can lead."

Time will tell whether the United States will end up with another Generation Jones leader, but with President Biden withdrawing his candidacy, it has now become a distinct possibility.

Of note in discussions over Kamala Harris's generational status is the fact that generations aren't just calculated by birth year but by a person's cultural reality. Some have made the argument that Harris is culturally more Gen X than boomer, though there doesn't seem to be any record of her claiming any particular generation as her own. However, a swath of Gen Z has staked their own claim on her as "brat"—a term singer Charli XCX thrust into the political arena with a post on X that read "kamala IS brat." That may be nonsensical to most older folks, but for Gen Z, it's a glowing endorsement from one of the top Gen Z musicians of the moment.

Pop Culture

People are sharing their personal encounters with Robin Williams to honor his birthday

A tribute from Williams' son prompted heartwarming anecdotes from everyday people who met the iconic comedian.

Photo credits: ABC and Eva Rinaldi

Robin Williams' son Zak shared a tribute on social media on what would have been his dad's 73rd birthday.

Few entertainers have enjoyed as much broad appeal and admiration as comedian Robin Williams, but people's love for him is not just for his performances. Williams was a talented comedian and an actor with a surprisingly wide range, but by all accounts he was also a delightful and caring human being.

Williams would have been 73 years old on July 21, 2024. His son Zak shared a touching tribute to his father on social media, which prompted everyday people to share their personal anecdotes of their encounters with him.


"Dad, on what would be your 73rd birthday, I remember you for all the hope and joy you brought to the world," Zak Williams wrote. "There's not a week that goes by without someone sharing with me how you helped them through a dark time or a rough patch. I'm so grateful to be your son. Love you forever."

As the stories poured in, it became clearer and clearer how much the world lost with Robin Williams' passing in 2014. Here are some highlights:

"I passed your dad carrying you one day on a sidewalk in SF - you looked to be around 2. You were both talking to each other in made-up language and you were really holding your own. Your dad caught me watching and as you passed me by, he tipped his head towards you and beamed the most incredible loving smile - he thought you were something else." – malloryvk

"Jumanji was filmed in my hometown (Keene, NH) when my mom was working at a local restaurant - Robin Williams stopped in and my mother was his waitress. She took his order as she was trained to - 'hello my name is Robin, what can I get for you today?' - he ordered a burger and tipped $100, 'from one Robin to another.'" – emmatshibambi

"Every Christmas, your Dad would visit the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UCSF. He would visit every child who was able to have a visitor and all of the exhausted and terrified parents. Your dad’s goodness and love were felt by everyone there." – kennandlisa

"Many, many years ago, I worked at Harrods in Knightsbridge. I was working the Caralina Herrera sunglasses counter one day and Robin Williams came up and asked directions to the Sports department. I tried to play it cool as I took in the laughter lines of his face, the twinkle in his eyes, the kindness of his soul. I needed to remember this moment forever. And I do! (And I often wonder if he found the sports department straight away, as I'm pretty sure I told him in my true awkwardness to turn right instead of left at the top of the escalator. Sorry Robin) A forever memory and much love and appreciation for the human that you were. ❤️" – ilovekerry.2

"In the early 2000’s, my mom spotted Mr. Williams by himself sight-seeing in downtown Toronto. She was so excited as she was a huge fan, and approached him. She later told me how he radiated warmth, his blue eyes sparkling, and was even kind enough to sign an autograph. Though my mom is now in Heaven too, I still cherish this memory (and the autograph + pen he used!) 🙌" – foxy_the_squirrel

"I watched your dad since Mork & Mindy & had a casual conversation with him at the Apple Store in NYC but I did not tell him I knew it was him. I wanted him to enjoy his shopping without getting hit by millions of people. He had a thick beard but I saw his BRIGHT CLEAR BLUE EYES. Absolutely unmistakable & one of a kind, not just his eyes but his heart." – InventorBLADES

"I can’t even tell you the impact he had on my life… I went through a horrible violent crime as a teen and spent years hiding it, that decision created great mental anguish and Robin saved my life. I can’t explain the details, but he was an angel on earth and he had a way to speak to hearts with his one of kind spontaneous comedy and I am forever thankful for the gift of him in my journey." – wenbernacky

"I mean this in a very literal sense—no other famous persons passing has ever hit me, but his… it’s almost as if I had personally known him and he had been there to comfort me during hard times. Those types of souls are magic in human form." – iamchief_chris

Some may not know that Robin Williams also advocated for homeless people in Congress, with his signature compassion and even some comedy thrown in. Watch:

And for more of Robin Williams in real life, check out his "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview with James Lipton, which apparently gave one of the audience members a hernia from laughing so hard.

Pop Culture

Here’s a paycheck for a McDonald’s worker. And here's my jaw dropping to the floor.

So we've all heard the numbers, but what does that mean in reality? Here's one year's wages — yes, *full-time* wages. Woo.

Making a little over 10,000 for a yearly salary.


I've written tons of things about minimum wage, backed up by fact-checkers and economists and scholarly studies. All of them point to raising the minimum wage as a solution to lifting people out of poverty and getting folks off of public assistance. It's slowly happening, and there's much more to be done.

But when it comes right down to it, where the rubber meets the road is what it means for everyday workers who have to live with those wages. I honestly don't know how they do it.


Ask yourself: Could I live on this small of a full-time paycheck? I know what my answer is.

(And note that the minimum wage in many parts of the county is STILL $7.25, so it would be even less than this).

paychecks, McDonalds, corporate power, broken system

One year of work at McDonalds grossed this worker $13,811.18.

assets.rebelmouse.io

This story was written by Brandon Weber and was originally appeared on 02.26.15

Family

Former pro athlete explains how to assess a kid's true athletic potential

Nate Daniels breaks down how to tell if your kid has the talent and skill to go pro—and why that's not so important.

@natedaniels_1/TikTok

Having unrealistic expectations can makes parents and kids miss out on what's important—enjoying the game.

Following a 6-year stint as a professional football player, Nate Daniels is now dedicated to helping families navigate the world of children’s sports in positive and uplifting ways. When not mentoring through his Next Level Athletes program, you might find Daniels on TikTok sharing stories from his pro football days along with helpful insights for parents.

Recently Daniels delved into a question that he gets from parents all the time: “Is my child an elite athlete?”

Parents are, of course, usually asking this question with the good intention of setting their kid up for their best possible future. After all, a potential professional future would require a completely different level of commitment, both from the child and the parents, so it would be good to know that as soon as possible. But how to know if that’s necessary?

According to Daniels, the answer might be quite simple.


“First of all, if you have to ask me that question, they're probably not an elite athlete, but stay with me,” he says at the start of his clip.

As he explains, “When you have an elite athlete, it is glaring. They stick out like a sore thumb. A layman could walk in the gym and be like, ‘Man, who is that kid?’ You could walk out on the soccer pitch, the baseball field, the lacrosse field, and everyone knows that kid is different.”

In other words, this kind of gift won’t go unnoticed, both by other parents and the child’s coach. “Like my idol when I was growing up, used to say, Walter Payton, ‘When you're good, you're going around telling everybody how good you are. But when you're great, they're telling you.’” Daniels attests.

But Daniels also affirms that the next part is far more “crucial” for parents to understand: “You do not know what you have until a kid has hit puberty.”


@natedaniels_1 I’m asked by sports parents multiple times a week about their athletes potential let’s talk about it. #youthsports #youthathletes #sportsparents #athlete #athletesoftiktok #sports #athletes #sportstiktok #sportsperformance #parentsoftiktok #athletemotivation #athletemindset @Next Level Athletes ♬ original sound - Nate Daniels

“I've coached and trained youth athletes that were completely dominant at the youth level. And after they hit puberty has disappeared. And the beautiful thing I've also coached, the vice versa,” he explained.

This was something that many other parents had also witnessed, as indicated by the comments.

“This is so true. My son was a beast as a youth. Everybody knew his name. Then puberty hit and he disappeared. Still not sure what happened. 🤷🏾♀️,” one viewer wrote.

"I can’t tell you how many middle school kids and even freshmen level out in 10th grade and then everyone else catches up and most of the time surpasses!” shared another.

Daniels’ final message to parents is this: “If you have a youth athlete that is experiencing success, just let them enjoy that success. Let them continue to work hard. Be patient to see how it will play out.”

“I'm not saying this to burst your bubble or to temper your being proud. I'm proud. I want you to be proud of your kids, but these expectations that you're projecting just aren't realistic most times.”

And to youth athletes currently struggling, Daniels says: “Keep your head down and keep working. Do not let anything discourage you. You never know what the future holds. But in order to fulfill that potential, you have to keep putting in the work.”

Sports can have so many benefits for kids, regardless of whether or not they go pro. But so many of those benefits might be overshadowed by performance pressures put on by well-meaning parents. Take it from a pro himself—slow down. Enjoy the game and let the future unfold.

Pop Culture

Man's epic rant about streaming services is so relatable people are applauding

"Everything was faster and easier and worked better 20 years ago and we ruined it. We were all scammed."

Representative Photo credit: Canva

Man's epic rant about streaming platforms has people applauding.

Something happened nearly two decades ago. There was a shift where video rental stores were shutting down because Netflix (who used to deliver literal DVDs) and Redbox were causing a significant decline in customers. Then Netflix became a streaming service, making it even easier for you to get access to the movies you would normally rent for a flat fee and reducing the stress of losing or damaging a DVD.

This jump into streaming created the demand for more streaming services at a time when cable rates were skyrocketing. It made practical financial sense to move over to a couple of streaming services and let go of cable. That is until the streaming services became obnoxiously plentiful.

Anthony Robustiano recently went on an epic rant about his frustration with streaming services after he tried to find a movie to watch. He explains that in order to even know which streaming platform to watch the movie on he first had to Google the movie. That's when the rant turns up a notch.


"To then finally finding the movie on a streaming service that you own and you get excited and you go to the movie and then Prime Video is like, 'well we're going to need an additional $3.99 from you.' Why? I'm already paying you a monthly fee what are you talking about? And they're like 'well you can rent it or buy it for seven grand.'"

You know someone's a peak frustration when they're making up ridiculous numbers to express how expensive something is. But Rubstiano wasn't alone in his irritation with the high price of multiple streaming platforms. Commenters joined in and agreed that maybe cable was actually superior to streaming services after all.



"Also? The entire appeal of Netflix was ‘no ads.’ As a single person I relented and subscribed to Netflix sometime after COVID screwed the world, when tired of having to put up with ads while watching ‘free’ movies on cable or YouTube or a few other free show sources online. Now, they want me to choose between paying a lot more, which I cannot do, or…. Putting up with ADS. Good-bye, Netflix," one person writes.

"THIS!!!! It’s awful. There’s nothing to watch. Mostly because I can’t find it and get overwhelmed," another says.

"Everything was faster and easier and worked better 20 years ago and we ruined it. We were all scammed," someone complains.

"ALL WE EVER WANTED WAS CAFETERIA STYLE CABLE. Let us pick what we're paying $70/mo for. GOSH," another person shouts.

The consensus seems to be that since the streaming services now all come with ads and additional fees, bringing back Blockbuster or cable would be preferable. Although some people shared that they kept their old DVD/Blu Ray players so they could physically own a copy of what they purchased, pointing out that when a streaming platform loses rights to a movie or show, you no longer have access even though you may have purchased it.

In a perfect world, a cable company could strike a deal with the streaming services giving you access to all of the platforms for one price along with basic cable. Until then, stores still sell DVD players.