What can I do to help?
Interestingly enough, that is not a helpful question. When people are stressed, the last thing they want is another tough question to answer. If you really want to help -- and it's not just a generic How are you today? remark -- take a tip from my good friend Maureen. Knowing that I will be at Mom's apartment tomorrow to continue packing her stuff*, Maureen's immediate question was:
What time should I meet you at Mom’s tomorrow?
Ask the right question. Make it easy for the person in need to accept your gracious offer. Words matter -- and knowing that is always a tremendous help.
*Mom is moving from her assisted living apartment to a room in the health care center of her facility. She's OK. Just 91. Getting old, as Betty Davis said, is not for sissies.