Posted on: 4 November 2016
If you've ever experienced a disaster like fire or water damage in your home before, you know how uprooted and fragile the experience can make you feel. Now that someone you know is going through the same thing, you may wonder how you can best help them weather the damage and come out strong on the other side. Here are some common sense tips to help you help them without being insensitive or making a nuisance of yourself.
1. Ask them what they need.
Communication is a crucial aspect of any relationship. If your neighbor or family member is taking the damage hard you may feel a little leery of pestering them with questions, but expressing your desire to help in a supportive way may be the most efficient way to show you care while actually improving their situation. If it's a close friend or family member and you feel comfortable offering money, try a gift card to allow them freedom to replace some lost items.
2. Don't force anything on them.
If you can offer your neighbor a place to stay while repairs are ongoing, do so, but don't put any pressure on them to accept. There may be some reason why they would do better staying somewhere else (for example, if they have social anxiety they may feel more comfortable with a private hotel room than staying in your house and feeling obligated to act like a good guest) so be sure you don't make them feel bad about refusing your help. If they do refuse, ask if there's anything else you can do, and come up with a few suggestions (such as providing meals, feeding the pets, or taking loads of damaged goods to the dump) so they know you mean it.
3. Do be sure to show them you care.
If you've experienced a similar tragedy, let them know you understand some of what they feel. (If you haven't, don't pretend you do understand.) But either way, make sure you do send your condolences, along with any aid (such as a gift card or check) so they know they're not alone.
4. Let them talk.
Some people need to talk about what they've experienced in order to process it emotionally, and talking through the events may help your friend start to come out of the initial shock that accompanies such a tragedy. Be a good listener, and let your friend talk as much as they need to in order to get it all out.
5. Remember them next month.
And the month after that. After a really severe disaster, the rebuilding process can take months and months to complete, and your friend's life may be topsy-turvy for a long time. Let them know you're thinking about them by checking in and asking how the repairs are going and asking what you can do to help a couple of months after the event when most people have forgotten about it.
These five tips will help you be the most sensitive, supportive friend after a water damage disaster such as a house fire or flood. If you've experienced this type of disaster yourself, you can also look back at that experience and remember what gestures of help were the most useful, then offer to do those things for your currently afflicted friend or relative.Share