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Ten On Tuesday

Not to be a debbie-downer but things are pretty sad around here. Not all the time and life is happening, we are going to work and taking care of business but still, in the back of my mind at all times is the reality that Bob is gone. Today’s topic is a direct relation to this, Ten Things You Can Do To Be Supportive When Someone Dies.

grace rock for carole knits

  1. Get in touch with them. A phone call to say I’m thinking about you goes a long way.
  2. Send flowers. Now. I’m an old-fashioned girl and I believe in flowers for a funeral. That said, they can be expensive and some people think they are a waste of money. I say send them anyway.
  3. Bring food. And by food I mean: bring a meal so that the grieving family has something they can just sit down and eat, something to serve to visitors who drop by, something delicious and nourishing and comforting.
  4. Make a donation. Sometimes people make specific suggestions for your donations, hospice or alzheimer’s or another charity but even if they don’t you can make a donation to a cause that you support – Kiwanis or the local library of Doctor’s Without Borders. Just do something that will make you feel good about honoring that person.
  5. Send a card. Send one right away but then – send another one. And maybe even another one. The weeks after the death, when things return to “normal” can be very difficult and reaching out at that time is, to me, even more critical than reaching out immediately.
  6. Don’t make it about you. Of course you have feelings and you are grieving but remember your place – don’t try to guilt the family into doing something that’s right for you but wrong for them. Shut your mouth and show up with all the support you can muster.
  7. Following up on #6, dump out, not in. If you don’t know what that means, read this article, it’s excellent.
  8. Talk about the person who died. Share stories, smile and laugh. Sure, you may cry but that’s okay, too. I remember after my brother died we all stopped talking about him because we didn’t want to upset my mom. She finally looked at all of us one day and said, I’m already upset every minute of every day and you all acting like Donald never existed is just making it worse. Talk about him! And so we did and we found that it eased our pain. A lot.
  9. Listen. That #8 is great and all but you need to listen to the person who is grieving. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.
  10. Bring booze. I’m joking but also not joking. Obviously if there are substance abuse issues this is not a good idea. But. For the ones you know enjoy a cocktail, show up with some margarita fixings or a bottle of wine. Make a drink for your friend.

I’m sure there are other more technical and more appropriate things to do but these are the things I do. They are the things I would want someone to do for me – they show caring and support and compassion and maybe even a little humor.

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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to come up with a decent list for today, but once I started writing, it wasn’t as difficult as I expected. There is no way to alleviate grief, but by offering support we may be able to help ease it. Donations are a great idea, as is booze. A nice glass of wine can really help!

  2. All of these things are good ways to support a family during a time of grieve and the weeks that follow. We will be thinking of you all over the next few days. ??

  3. So sorry to hear about the passing of Bob. You have been so blessed to have Bob in your lives but as you said it so beautifully, to experience joy in your friendship also brings deep sadness in his passing. I will keep you in my thoughts as you move through the days ahead.

  4. Thank you for sharing such great words on how to handle life and what it deals you. My thougts and prayers are with all of you.

  5. That is a wonderful and complete list. I could not agree more with it all- especially once all of the rituals of saying goodbye are all done and life around the bereaved has continued to hum along. Increasing contact with grieving families during that time is crucial. It’s the hardest time of all for them. Sending love and hugs to you and Dale and keeping Bob’s family in my thoughts and prayers.

  6. My parents and I still talk about my brother like he was here. And he is, in my mind. I never understood that until it happened to me. And #10 really is good – sometimes you just need a drink to loosen the nerves.

  7. good list – having lost my sweet husband 16 long weeks ago, these are all exceptionally good things. On that food thing – call first, the family fridge may be overflowing, and no freezer space 🙂

    Something I always struggled with before was exactly what to say – and I’ve come to realize that “there are no words” is the most honest and true statement of all, followed by a good hug, and an “I love you”.

    And the worst thing to ask is “How are you?” – because frankly, I am miserable, but holding it together. Better to ask “How are you today?” because I can answer that easily most of the time, without losing it in public. Which is my biggest fear, personally.

    Our family is getting through this, we’ll never be over losing our spouse/father/grandfather/friend, but the memories are sweet, and we are learning how to savor them together.

    thanks for sharing this !!

  8. First – let me say how sorry I am to hear about Bob’s passing. I like to think that heaven is “rockin out” right now – and the angels are singing right along!

    I agree whole heartedly with the “speak their name” – tell stories about them – just let them “come into the room again”. I’ve been doing them via email with my best friend Barb – who recently lost her brother. And it really helps her – she has told me so!

    Linda in VA

  9. This is an extraordinarily helpful list. You are so right about talking of your memories and love for the person. Your friends are fortunate to have you in their grieving.

  10. Yes, all of this. As a fairly recent widow this all resonates with me. I would add – don’t assume. Don’t assume you know what someone is feeling, don’t assume your presence/absence is welcome/unwelcome, don’t assume that flowers/food are needed/wanted. Don’t assume that your way of honoring the dead is the same as the family’s way.

    And finally, realize that life does go on and that the deceased person leaves a hole behind that the family may not be able to fill. I am not talking emotions here, but practical things like putting out the trash and recycling, getting kids to school or the elderly to grocery shopping or medical appointments – the things that aren’t happening because the person who did them is no longer here.

    I love that you loved and miss your friend Bob and I loved that people loved my husband and said so.

  11. Having lost seven friends in the last two years, my heart goes out to you, Dale, and Bob’s family. Just a few suggestions if I may…don’t ask what can you do – just show up and do something, anything (mow the lawn, shovel the walk, grocery shop, send meals not just desserts, etc.); don’t ask how the family is doing or how they are coping – they’re miserable and grief stricken; after the funeral/services, I often ask the family if I may give a living tribute in memory of their loved one…plant a tree, rose bush, hydrangea, etc. of the family’s choice. Please remember to have frequent contact with the family in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Take them out, go for a walk on the beach, take them out to lunch, bring them to your home for respite care and a meal, etc. There’s nothing anyone can say to lessen the grief…less is more…I’m so sorry for your loss…or I’ll keep you in my prayers. And please put duct tape on your mouth if you’re going to share a “war” story of someone else’s tragedy – this is not the time or place…ever. Sending hugs and wishing you peace…always.

  12. I almost forgot, Carole – one more suggestion if I may, please. I write a lengthy letter to the family to share wonderful memories and good times that have been shared over the years. It’s important to remember happier days and to always talk about their loved one to keep his memory alive. God bless.

  13. I’m so sorry for your loss. That was an excellent list you posted. I am in a similar position with my best friend, and I think the most useful thing I am doing for her is #9 — listen, and listen without judgment. I know she appreciates having someone she could share all her thoughts with, without having to worry about being judged for all the feelings she is going through.

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