You don’t have stuff. Other people have lots of stuff. They will want to give you their stuff to help? What do you say to these well intended givers of stuff? How can they help?
For us, the ‘stuff’ was a blessing and a curse – for months, we would come ‘home’ from work and find boxes and boxes that had been shipped to us from all over the country – people we had never meet but they wanted to help. One of the best gifts we received from this horrific experience was the visible outpouring of generosity from strangers, the goodness and giving of human kind. Our 5 year old daughter saw this and experienced it directly and we believe those acts of kindness instilled in her a deep sense of generosity and gratitude that is evident in her actions even today as a 14 year old high school-er. We opened every box and found a treasure in every one – a toy that our daughter previously owned and loved that they did not make anymore, a gift card to Bed Bath & Beyond, shoes for our 18 month old or something that triggered a wonderful memory of something we lost. But unfortunately, the majority of the things just were not right for us. So, we donated that within our community, hoping it would help others. Honestly, this took a lot of time…which was our rarest commodity.
So, if not stuff, then how can people help you? You will eventually need stuff but you really don’t know what just yet and your living situation will change many times at a rapid pace over the next few months, so gift cards are perfect. Consider starting a gift registry – this will help as the holidays approach and might help you plan for your future home too. If they know you well, maybe they will print a couple special pictures and send those too so that you can put them on your wall in the rental to help it feel like home. If you have a specific need – TELL EVERYONE! They are waiting to help you and if you don’t speak up they won’t know and you will end up with well intended stuff but not what you really need.
Time will be your most precious gift, so let me try to help you with a standard response. Cut, paste and edit this and send to your friends/family/co-workers:
“Thank you so much for your generosity. We appreciate your love and support during this difficult time. We have much uncertainty right now about our future, but we know we will have needs in the near term and long term, so the best way to help right now is to send gift cards that we can use when we are ready. [if applicable: we do have a few specific needs of size 3 diapers, size 2 boy clothes, etc]. We have also set up gift registries at Amazon and Target and plan to continue to add to these as we identify more needs.”