It Takes a Village

I believe we all have a village.

Friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, classmate parents, and acquaintances. When we think about all the people in our lives, from the nearest and dearest to the familiar faces that surround us on a daily basis, we realize the extent of our own personal villages. Although these villages vary in size and composition from person to person, they all have one thing in common: the ability to come together and provide support to someone in need.  While we are not alone, when a tragedy or crisis strikes, it’s amazing how lonely we can sometimes feel. Deep down, we know there are people we can count on but may feel lost when it comes to utilizing our troops.

Whether your village is big or small, it needs strong communication for maximum efficiency.

When facing a crisis, personally asking for a few favors here and there is no problem. But when the list of needs increases exponentially, asking for help can become stressful and often times avoided. Continually outstretching one’s hand can feel awkward and uncomfortable.

As a villager, it can be challenging to know what to do.

Knowing what to offer someone in need can be confusing. Well-intended offers of “call me if you need anything” are wonderful, but are vague and usually left untapped. Often times the person in need has no idea what they need or might feel uncomfortable asking last minute for help.

The gift of an organized community.

One of the incredible gifts I received shortly after my husband Joe was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, was the offer to set up an online networking system. At the time, I had no idea this existed or how helpful it would turn out to be. It was during a gathering at our house when a wise friend grabbed pen and paper to begin accumulating contact information to organize our community. A plan was set in motion. Word spread to friends who had not heard the news and a comprehensive list of those comprising our village was created. Within days, the ball was rolling with a fully-functioning online system to keep everyone in the loop.

One email blast informing everybody of Joe’s current status saved time and energy from having to relay and receive information through multiple channels. Creating a comprehensive calendar for rides, tasks, and meals facilitated an easy and specific way for our village to know exactly what we needed taking the guesswork out of what to do. Organizing everything in one place became a time-saving and stress-reducing way to communicate our needs and get them fulfilled.

The results were amazing! Whereas originally intimidated with asking for so much help, I couldn’t post tasks fast enough. Within minutes of adding items to our weekly calendar, the slots would be filled. I started getting feedback that, not unlike trying to secure coveted concert tickets online, it was impossible to even grab an opportunity to help. Dinners, grocery shopping, rides, and errands all covered by loving villagers who delighted in having a chance to offer assistance. It turned out to be a win-win for everyone!

Social support is a key component to recovery and growth.

Being specific with my needs and willing to push my ego aside opened up the channels of communication necessary to allow incredible support to flow in. Our loving friend had gifted us with a valuable tool to fully utilize our village. This support system was the solid foundation that got us through the incredibly rough times during Joe’s illness and continued to be there for me long after Joe’s passing providing assistance, peace of mind, strength to heal and a chance to grow.

Set up a website – Organize a village.

Two of my favorite websites that provide everything you need to organize a village are Rallyhood and Carepages.

 

Whether you or a loved one are currently in need of some social support, I encourage you to look into this very valuable and powerful tool.

It truly does take a village. Why not help yours be an efficient and organized one.

 

Lori LoCicero

About Lori LoCicero

Lori LoCicero is a storyteller with a fresh perspective on surviving and thriving through grief. She founded Life Revised because she believes positive transformation can come from tragedy, and wants to encourage others to see trauma as a catalyst for personal growth.

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9 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

  1. Thank you for this helpful article Lori. What I want to add is how wonderful having everything online works for the villagers. I remember wanting to bring dinner to your house. By seeing the nights that it was needed, I got to consider my needs as well. Wednesday is better for me than Friday because of my work schedule. I could consider my own needs when choosing how to contribute. Often, when wanting to help, it is awkward to even think about oneself, but when it is all organized, there is no burn out, because each person can manage balancing their needs with caring for another.

  2. Lori,
    Your village also allowed those who weren’t close to participate.

    Steak knives. I bought steak knives at a backyard sale. But guess what….when I use those steak knives, I think of Joe. Everytime. It’s truly the little things your village did (and they did a lot)…but I was lucky to attend ONE of the events. And I have the steak knives to prove it.
    Great info! Keep it up!