A few months ago, I was in Newcastle NSW visiting family. I picked up a copy of the local newspaper, and read an article about a woman called Kim Oakhill, who had started a small business after baring witness to a friends’ terrible loss.
The seemingly simple idea of Helpful Love, made so much sense to me, and I knew how amazing this concept would be for families and friends of families, caring for a sick child in hospital. I reached out to Kim, and she very kindly has shared her journey with us here at Cocooned.
I’ll never forget the moment I received the news that my friend’s perfectly healthy, beautiful, joyful little 3 year old girl was… gone.
One minute she’s happily playing in the park with a sniffly nose, the next minute, she’s in hospital on life support. A complication from the common cold and just like that, her Mummy and Daddy were saying goodbye forever.
What do you say? What do you do? As a young Mum myself, I couldn’t imagine my whole world being ripped away from me. How could I function in a life without my world?
As days went by, friends, family and strangers sent flowers. Hundreds (probably thousands) of dollars worth of flowers. A gesture we do during terrible times because “that’s just what you do, right?”
I happened to have some inside info that little Maddy’s Daddy suffered hay fever, so while I have no doubt that the flowers brought some brightness to the families darkest days, the flowers wilted away out of sight. I thought surely, there must be something more useful out there to help this beautiful family get through each hour of each day, and the long road ahead of them.
So, I jumped online and searched for something. Cleaning? Washing? A meal delivery? A lawn mower man, perhaps? But I didn’t want to
just organise this on their behalf and have some stranger rock up to their doorstep, not knowing their situation and asking to scrub their toilet. I didn’t even really know what they needed… their neighbour may be mowing their lawn when they do their own, their freezer may be full to the brim with meals. I decided to do an online grocery shop, put my friend’s address into the system instead of mine, and did a pantry staples and essentials order instead.
But it got me thinking… the world needs to shift their thinking. We need some options. We need an alternative to flowers, and we don’t aways live close enough to drop around on their doorstep and offer domestic help (it’s not always appropriate to do so, either).
And so, on 18 February 2016, exactly 2 years following the death of Miss Maddie, the Helpful Love movement was launched.
Helpful Love is a community of awesome service providers who have signed up to offer useful, practical support during times of loss. They have been briefed on the circumstances, and understand that those calling up with a Helpful Love Gift Voucher are going through a tough time, and need some quality support, and with some extra love and sparkle.
Make sure you take a look at the growing Helpful Love Directory, and perhaps you can add to it yourself or help extend the movement in your area. If you’d like more ideas on how you can help, take a look at out post; 5 ways to help family or friends caring for a child hospital.