The devastating loss of Michael Dubruiel yesterday and the impact this will have on his wife and family made me think of some of the losses I have had over the years and what helps, and what doesn't. So I thought I'd share some of those today.
Food. Everybody brings food and it's a good thing. The bereaved are too tired and too stunned to worry about preparing meals too. Food is good the week of the funeral but also in the weeks after. And if you can't bring a meal by, a gift card to a restaurant or deli, or grocery store is also always appreciated.
Don't be afraid to talk to the grieving. The worst thing you can do is avoid them! Even if you do not know what to say, just a simple "I'm so sorry" with a hug or a pat on the arm means so much.
Don't think you have to offer advice. There's nothing you can offer that is going to make anyone feel better. Do more listening than talking.
On the other hand, people love to hear funny, joyful, inspirational stories about their deceased love ones! When my uncle died, I was so pleased to hear from so many people who thought he was very kind and special. Those kinds of anecdotes were helpful to me.
When Princess Diana died, Prince Charles wore a blue suit to her funeral, because she liked him best in blue. Those kinds of heartfelt tributes are much appreciated. Whether it is clothing, or a tradition shared with the deceased. Those types of things done in their honor is very meaningful.
Let the grieved talk! They need to talk. All you have to do is listen.
Don't put a timetable on grief. I think the kind of grief where you think about someone every single solitary day lasts at least a year. And then after that there are triggers like birthdays and anniversaries. But there will always be a loss there. Don't expect the void to ever close completely.
Remember the grieving after the funeral. The WORST part of the whole grieving/ funeral thing starts the day AFTER the funeral. Then the world goes back to normal for everyone else, but not for the family of the deceased! They have to find a new normal and it is very hard. Thinking of You cards, notes, flowers, phone calls, e-mails are very appreciated, even if the bereaved isn't quite really to fully answer them yet. Just the gesture is helpful.
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