When someone gets hurt from a bike fall or from a collision, it’s natural to want to know how they’re doing. However, well-meaning inquiries can impose a huge burden on the family members who may not have any information to share, especially when the extent of injuries is unknown. It’s incredibly stressful to be asked over and over about your loved one’s condition when the doctors haven’t even debriefed you on status, or when your loved one is battling for his life.
Moreover, family members may not want to share, especially with people who they may not even know. A terribly injured loved one is a huge psychological trauma. The last thing the family needs to also deal with are “How’s Bill doing?” text inquiries.
If you really care about the injured person and the family, consider the following.
- How close are you to the injured person? Super, super, super close? No? Then stand down.
- How close are you to the injured person’s family? Never met them? Then stand down.
- Do you have anything to offer besides prayers and “thinking of you” type support? No? Then stand down.
- Do you know they have a specific unmet need, and that you’re the person to fill it? Then consider reaching out, but not directly to the family.
- Have you been asked to do something by the family? No? Then stand down.
- Don’t post information on Facebook unless the family has asked you to.
- A lot of the time the family will have a very close friend who is with them at the hospital. If you know that person, contact him or her regarding hospital visits or other questions you may have, and spare the family the task of responding to countless questions.
- Remember that in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic incident, the hospital and the closest family members/friends are usually taking care of the necessities. The tough part is after discharge, when your friend begins what is often a long and painful path to recovery. This is when visits, phone calls, your friendship and help can greatly ameliorate the brutal and plodding work of returning to normal.
These guidelines aren’t perfect, and there are always exceptions. But it will never ever hurt to really ask yourself twice, and then a third time, before you hit “send.”