I never know what to do when I find out a friend has lost a loved one. I feel like whatever I do is inadequate to let them know that I care. I also don't want to intrude. So when one of my good friends lost her mother over the weekend, I looked to see what I could do. There were some great suggestions:
- Listen, Listen, Listen. One of the most important things you can do is to make yourself available and truly listen.
- Send a card or letter letting the person know you care. Holidays, birthdays and the anniversary of the person’s death can be particularly difficult. Sending a card or note during these special times lets your friend know they are not alone.
- Make a phone call or stop by to make sure the person is doing ok.
- Make them dinner or take them out for dinner or coffee. Allow them the space to talk about how they are feeling.
- Help them put together a memory book of pictures and mementos of the person that has passed away. This will give them a chance to connect with the special times they spent with their loved one.
- Help them take care of everyday tasks. Take out the trash, wash the dishes, go grocery shopping, take their dog for a walk, wash their car, mow their lawn, take the kids to school, etc. Taking care of the everyday tasks can allow the family time to grieve and handle the many responsibilities of planning a funeral and readjusting their lives.
- Allow the person the opportunity to grieve. The grieving process does not end at the funeral. It takes time and allowing your friend the space to go through the normal stages of grief can help with their overall recovery.
- Send a gift of hope, inspiration, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Send an inspirational book, a journal, a memory book, a funny movie, a beautiful picture, a mediation CD, a day at the spa, or any gift item that helps your friend with the healing process.
- Help the person call family and friends to let them know about the funeral/memorial service. Telling people over and over again about the passing of a loved one can be extremely difficulty for the bereaved. Having a few close friends and family members help with this task can lift a heavy burden.
- If the family has to fly to another destination for the burial, help them make travel arrangements. In most cases travel arrangements will need to be made at the very last minute and having someone help navigate this task is a wonderful gift you can give someone.
- Attend the funeral. Unless it is a closed family funeral, having friends and family around at this very difficult time can mean a great deal to your friend or family member.
- Be understanding and patient. Your friend or family member may not know what they need right now. Your willingness to be ready, willing and able to assist when they need support will be a cherished gift.
- Be sure they are taking care of themselves. Keep up with them on the basics. Are they eating? Are they getting up in the morning and taking a shower? Are they getting out of the house? Are they getting regular exercise? If not, talk to them about their well-being.
- Help them create a memorial website in honor of the person that has passed away. There are many memorial websites that are easy to set up and many of them are free or inexpensive to maintain.
What suggestions do you have? What also helped when you were grieving?