Help Me Help Her
August 5, 2010 10:36 AM   Subscribe

What can I give or do for my supervisor to show my support and help her with the stress of caring for a family member after a lung transplant?

Here are some data points about the situation:

1) My supervisor will be caring for her family member for six weeks after the operation.

2) They are anticipating the operation will take place in another state within the next few days. The hospital does happen to be near my hometown, so I can offer some assistance about restaurants, services, etc.

3) My supervisor and I are close, but we haven't socialized much outside of work. We live about an hour apart.

4) I will have to ask her about who is taking care of her mail, home and yard while she's away, but I'm assuming she has that covered with assistance from her neighbors and friends.

5) My supervisor is very scared but is handling the uncertainty well.

Can you help me, MeFi? I want to do the right thing here but everything I can think of seems so trivial when faced with the gravity of the situation. Thank you for your help!
posted by princesspathos to Shopping (3 answers total)
Best answer: She's your supervisor at work, and given the situation she likely won't be in a good position to focus on her job as much as she normally would. Give her support in the context of your existing relationship: state confidently that you'll all work to hold down the fort in her absence so she won't have to worry about it, get her contact information and assure her that you'll contact her if something she must be involved with comes up, but if she doesn't hear from anyone then there's nothing she needs to worry about, and ask her if a daily or weekly emailed digest of team status would be helpful, or if there are any tasks she needs someone to take over for her, and so on.
posted by davejay at 10:41 AM on August 5, 2010

Best answer: Be the person she can delegate to if she needs to lighten her load. Also, from personal experience, if you're going to ask her, "hey, how's it going," don't use an infantilizing tone like, "Heyyyy, how's it GOing?" "How ARE you?"
posted by rhizome at 11:10 AM on August 5, 2010

Best answer: Everyone else has the right idea: take on as much of her responsibility as you can, if you're in a position to do so. Tell her she can contact you any time, with any needs, and you'll get it done (again, within reason). When my boss's mom died suddenly a couple years ago, I said, "go do what you need to do and I'll manage things here." And I did. I worked 12 hours a day, 6 days a week for a little while, but it was manageable, and he was very thankful not to have to even think about work.

It's kind of you to try and help her out, no matter what you can do. Maybe if you can't do as much work-wise as you'd like, you can get her some gift certificates to restaurants or services near the hospital. Things like spa treatments or movie tickets might be nice ways for her to relax in between caregiving duties. It's going to be stressful for her. GCs are thoughtful without being too personal, since you say you don't really socialize outside of work.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 12:24 PM on August 5, 2010

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