This week’s COVID Catch-up: The challenge of accepting help


One lesson Carrie Steinweg has learned: If someone wants to help, let them.

Carrie Steinweg (photo provided)

COVID Catch-up is a weekly column featuring Lansing Journal journalist Carrie Steinweg’s personal experience with COVID-19 and things she learned from others who shared their experiences. Subscribe today to make sure you don’t miss any COVID Catch-ups. Last week’s column is available here.

By Carrie Steinweg

LANSING, Ill. (April 15, 2021) – I know I’m not alone in this. Accepting help. I don’t like it. I’d venture to say that more people feel that way than don’t. When someone offers help in some form, it means you may have to admit that you need help. And I’d rather just plug along taking care of things on my own. But for most of us, there comes a time when you really have to depend on the help of others to get by.

Here I am almost six months after my first COVID symptoms appeared, and I have made it through this tough time with help from others. That has meant everything from my husband being my driver, to my kids carrying and lifting things for me or doing extra chores, to family and friends dropping off meals or having them delivered. Everyone living in my house has had to pick up the slack and do things that I haven’t been able to do.

Meals and food help

My sisters and a good friend have also done some very thoughtful things, and I’m so grateful for it. When I first got home from the hospital, several meals were provided, which was a huge help. There was no way I could get up and cook. My appetite was coming back after the hospital stay, but I was too weak to stand in the kitchen and prepare a meal.

My good friend Michelle kept sending texts to check in on me, dropped off little treats like hot chocolate, candles, and candy bars, and prepared some homemade meals like her award-winning chili, veggie lasagna, and chicken fajitas. My siblings pitched in, too, to help feed the family by sending meal deliveries from area restaurants. My sister Becky coordinated it.

And when it was time for Thanksgiving, a meal that takes a lot of energy to prepare, two of my sisters ordered a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings and dessert from a local restaurant that was paid for and just had to be picked up. That was such a wonderful gesture and something I’ll always remember. I really enjoy cooking a big meal for my family on holidays with lots of side dishes and appetizers, but I knew it just wouldn’t be possible this past year. It was so nice for everything to just be set in the kitchen, hot and ready to eat. We just had to set the table and sit down and enjoy it together.

These are things I never would have asked for help with. I knew we’d survive just fine with what my husband or kids could prepare from the freezer stock or what they could get for carry-out. No one would starve. But it took such a weight off just to know I didn’t have to even think about it. I got to concentrate on resting and healing while dinner just showed up.

Accepting and giving help

It’s one big lesson I learned from being sick with COVID: If someone wants to help, let them. Of course, I was inclined to refuse the offers at first. And if asked if I needed something, I’d say ‘no.’ But I also remembered how it felt good when there were times I was able to help someone — bringing a meal to a new mom, or having a pizza delivered to someone having a bad day, or treating someone to lunch. No one asked for help, and if I’d asked if they wanted or needed help, I’m sure they would have declined. I finally was able to let myself stop resisting and just accept it. Helping one another is a good thing, and these past few months were made easier because of the kindness of family and friends.