A friend faced a difficult cancer diagnosis and refused all phone calls and personal contact. Other than cards, it was impossible to reach her. I thought a lot about what I might do to help her and then remembered how much she loved the personalized cookbook I made my daughter. While looking through it she mentioned that she wished someone had made one for her. I decided I’d make her a cookbook and combed through my recipes, selecting ones I thought her family might remember from my table and choosing ones I hoped would be a comfort. I wrote a personal dedication, wrapped it, and sent it in the mail. I knew I had done the right thing when she called. She said no one could have given her a more perfect gift and she just loved it. We had a long conversation and it made me feel so good that I was able to reach her.

It isn’t always someone you know that extends a helping hand and manages to do just the right thing when you’re in need. A friend was in a tough spot when his wife’s uncle died. During the long drive to attend the funeral, his wife was so stressed trying to figure out how she was going to care for her young children when she herself needed personal time to properly grieve for her uncle. When they arrived at a family member’s home, they learned that a new neighbor had young children. She had a house filled with age-appropriate toys and offered to watch the children during the funeral. The kindness made such a difference and my friend’s wife was able to do what she needed to do to mourn her uncle’s death.

While these stories show great compassion and an ability to do just what's needed, they’re not meant to intimidate. It’s important to remember that there are times you won’t be available or know what to do and it’s not possible to always hit a home run. And that’s perfectly okay. Do your best whether it’s a card, a phone call, or a meal. The important thing is to just do it.

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in e-book and print for "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage" and e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.

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