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To really help a family in crisis, here are a few good rules to follow

Updated: Jan 9, 2020

By Andrea Paterson

March 17


In late May 2013, our family went from zero to catastrophe in 24 hours: my husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, even though he’d never smoked a day in his life.


The news was surreal, like someone telling me my husband was turning into a kangaroo. Our family spent the next 4 1/2  years in a terrible twilight, the 21st-century reality of smart drugs and cyber­knifing, clinical trials and contrast-CT scans. And then my husband died, plunging my boys and me into crisis.


Throughout it all, friends, colleagues, neighbors, family members sounded the same refrain: What can I do to help? Often, I could only stare in response. How should I know? I could barely remember to buy milk. Our lives were awash in administrivia, while fraught with apocalypse. Yet our community saved us.

What can I do to help? Often, I could only stare in response. How should I know? I could barely remember to buy milk.

Throughout this period, I remained on my feet. Sad — yes. Filled with grief at what we had lost — of course. But under the covers for days at a time — never. I attribute that to....


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