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8 Small Acts of Kindness That Make a Big Difference

Anyone can perform an act of kindness, but few follow through. Why? Reaching out to someone during an important or challenging life moment can take us out of our comfort zone.

Sometimes it takes more than a typical offer to help to make a big difference in someone’s life, especially after they’ve endured a life-changing event like the death of a loved one or medical diagnosis.

Making a big difference as someone goes through a trying moment doesn’t require big, over-the-top acts of kindness.

Small acts and good deeds merely require that people gather the courage to help others and follow through on their offers.

8 Kindness Ideas

These eight ideas are a great starting point for those who may want to help a loved one but want to do something a little outside of the box.

1. Let them know why they’re loved

Anyone can agree that family and friends come first. It’s instinctual to want to show up at their doorstep to be there for them and express love to those we value in life.

But telling loved ones why they’re remarkable falls by the wayside.

It’s one thing to show love; it’s a whole other thing to explain why someone has value as a beloved, respected individual.

2. Take out the trash

A widely popular way that communities gather around their loved ones is to start a meal train. If you’ve signed up to take them a meal, offer to take out the trash and tidy up while you’re there.

If the recipient has a no-contact food train, ask what day/time garbage day is and let them know that you’re going to take it to the curb for them so they don’t have to (bonus points for bringing it back).

3. Change the water in the flowers

 Sending flowers to let someone know you’re thinking about them is a wonderful and thoughtful (and oftentimes popular) gesture.

“But surely you know what happens next. If you’ve ever brought a bouquet of flowers into your home, you know. After just a day or two, the water starts to turn brown and needs changing…multiply that by fifty."

When your energy is reserved for standing up to go to the bathroom or to get a glass of water, changing the water for flowers is just not realistic. So instead of asking what you can do, tell them you’re coming over to change the water in their flowers.

4. Make magic for siblings too

If a family is dealing with a medical issue or diagnosis for one child, it’s important to support siblings too.

Parents go into crisis mode while their community responds with gifts for the affected child, inadvertently leaving room for jealousy for the other child(ren) in the family who is suddenly seeing their sibling showered with gifts and attention.

So when you send your care package, consider sending two instead of one. 

5. Schedule a massage for them

Self-care is hard in the midst of crisis. It’s difficult to validate “me-time" and feel like you can step away. But it’s oh, so important.

While massages and spa gift cards make wonderful and thoughtful gifts, actually using them can be a whole different story. So, buy the gift card. Then follow up and schedule the appointment to make sure they’re getting the time to themselves that they deserve.

6. Make room for respite time for a family caregiver

There are approximately 39.8 million people in the U.S (16.6% of the population) who provide care to adults with a disability or illness.

Because caretaking is part of their daily routine, it’s easy to allow that routine to become “their norm". But that is the furthest thing from the truth. Lining up time for a caregiver to have even a few hours to themselves can be just what they need to “rest, recharge, and remember there is a life beyond caregiving."

7. See what their pet’s needs are too

A pet in the home can feel like a lifesaver for an individual or family going through a hard time. After all, they can pick up on how we’re feeling.

So when you’re asking how everyone is doing, don’t forget about the pets. See if they need you to pick up some food, change the litter box, or spin the pup around the block to give everyone a much needed emotional pick-me-up.

8. Save “the date"

The cruelest reality after a loss or crisis is the passage of time. Everything seems to keep moving when your world stops.

One of the kindest and easiest gestures you can make is to add a recurring calendar event on your phone to remember their “day" and send them a text or call to let them know you’re thinking about them. Every year (perhaps even more often within the first year).

Better yet, send them a thoughtful gift basket.

Although they may hold it together well every other day, doesn’t mean “that day" (and the days leading up to it) isn’t hard. It is. And just knowing that someone remembers it, too, is priceless.

Visit Give InKind

If you’re still unsure what to do, creating an InKind Page is one of the kindest acts of all. You can coordinate all of these acts of kindness (and more) for your loved one on Give InKind — the best online tool for organizing support through life’s important and challenging moments. Get started here.

Give InKind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We have an affiliate relationship with many of the advertisers on our site, and may receive a commission from any products purchased from links in this article. See Terms & Conditions.

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