10 Things To Do For Someone When They Lose A Loved One

And I am speaking from recent experience here…

angel watching over us

angel watching over us

In the first couple of days after you lose someone you love, you can’t think or make even the smallest decisions. It helps to have people around you that can do these simple tasks for you. Friends and family call and ask what they can do to help but we don’t know what to say, we don’t know what will help. Our minds are numb, filled with so many things and thoughts that sometimes we can’t even do the simplest task. We don’t know where the checkbook is or where we put the pen to write the check or thank you cards. I have lost many people and I know many people who have lost someone close. I will never again think a card is enough.

Here are some things that someone did for us and it made all the difference.

  1. Just do something. Anything. Don’t ask what needs to be done. Look around, think about what your friend or family member may need done and do it.
  2. Prepare food or buy a meal or just bring a bunch of food by. People have freezers. Don’t worry they may have too many people dropping food by. Don’t just do it for the first couple days, keep doing it. Call them up and invite them to go out for lunch, coffee, brunch. They may not go but they will be grateful you asked. Ask again in a few weeks.
  3. Make calls for them. Think about people they may have wanted to let know and they may not have, you can do it for them so they don’t have to. It is hard for them to make these calls, you can help so much by doing it.
  4. Do small things for them so they don’t have to worry about it. Mow the grass, weed the garden, take the dog for a walk, do their wash, shop for groceries. All of these things are such small things but will mean a lot to the person, believe me.
  5. Be there in the weeks and months following the service. Everyone calls at first and stops by and then..nothing. Grief doesn’t just stop overnight. You shouldn’t stop either.
  6. If you have some area of expertise offer your assistance. If you are an electrician and they need wiring done, do it for them. If you are a lawyer and they need some advice, give it to them…for free. Whatever your specialty is, I’m sure you can help in some way to make their life less stressful at this time.
  7. When you talk to the person, tell them a story about their loved one that is special to you. Something they did or said that you remember that has really stuck in your mind or how their loved one has affected your life. I have heard so many wonderful stories the past week that have truly made this time much easier. If you send a card, write something in the card, make it personal.
  8. Don’t ask us to make a decision. About anything, even something as simple as what to make for dinner. We can’t.
  9. Listen. Just listen. Sometimes that is better than any advice or words of condolence. We just need to talk.
  10. Call, stop by, email, text..often. Just let them know you are there for them.

I would add one thing that really helped me and that is to make us laugh. Something so simple yet so healing. I didn’t think I could laugh at this terrible time in my life, but my friends and family made me laugh. And give lots of hugs..hugs really are the best medicine for a broken heart. People have hugged me so hard I thought they would break my ribs. But it didn’t hurt, it helped.

At some point I will write about this loss. I can’t do it yet, it is too fresh, and the wound is still open.

“Grief is like the ocean, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” ~ Vicki Harrison


28 thoughts on “10 Things To Do For Someone When They Lose A Loved One

  1. A few years ago I watched a community rally around a young widow and her daughter. The yard had been a bit neglected and within a day a group of volunteers had transformed it. It was such a moving gesture and response – people just jumped in and got to work without any request.

  2. To my everlasting shame, I used to send cards to the husband of my late childhood best friend while his wife was undergoing cancer treatment (we knew, from the first, that her chances of survival were not great.) Then, for some months after she passed away in September (we also visited him during the mourning period) I kept the cards coming. But I have sent him nothing in the last three months or so. I don’t know why. That is going to change, thanks to your post. Thank you, and I am so sorry for your loss. Sending a virtual hug.

  3. Your 5th point is the one that resonated most with me. When a loved one is lost, the people left behind need love, concern and support long after people stop delivering meals.

  4. Thanks to all that have done these things to show their love and support to our family in the last week! Love you Mom!

  5. I’m so sorry for your loss. My dad died this week and I have none of this sadness because our relationship was so distant. So, in amongst all the sadness, grief and longing, I’d like you to be glad you had someone you loved so much. In a way I wish I had a little of the sadness because it would mean I’d loved and been loved deeply. Hugs to you xxx

    1. Thank you Leanne! Yes, I was so loved by my son and yes I loved him to the moon and back, but it doesn’t make it easier. I do understand what you are saying, but I will miss him every single day the rest of my life. Hugs to you too!

  6. Dear Renee, I am so sorry for the loss of your son. I too am a bereaved mom. I will never forget the friends who asked what they could do and when I said we needed help with the yard, they came. We had so much to do, it was an incredible relief to know they were there making the yard presentable. Be good to you, grieving a child is beyond any loss I have experienced and I have experienced much loss.

    1. Thank you Terri! I have been reading your blog. It definitely helps. And you are right those friends are simply wonderful.

  7. It’s hard, Renee…. but laughter is helpful…it’s the quiet times that are hard. the conversations that are still so fresh as if they just happened. the moments before my husband called to tell me his Dr wanted him to check into the hospital that they thought he had cancer and I felt sucker punched, like he felt, that it couldn’t possibly be true, there was no cancer in his family. And then everything spiraled out of control and in a horrible direction and my guy who I had been with for over 44 years since the day we met, who could fix anything, had to come to the realization that he couldn’t’ be fixed and the annual vacation we had planned for was now changed to planning for the last few days of his life and trying to make sure he was comfortable and he could see those he wanted to see to say goodbye and running our of time for that , while we tried to glean important information about the house, and other matters.. He had so much more he wanted to do and see and experience but he was brave and stoic and left us all too soon…18 days after that phone call and 36 days after our son’s wedding. So now I walk the dogs every night like Dave used to, and am thankful we had the time we did and grateful that he was so loved by so many.

    1. Thank you for sharing this with me Marg. I have lost so many people lately but this is the hardest one of all. A parent shouldn’t have to bury their child. I am grateful for the time we had but wish he could have been here for his kids to watch them grow up.

      1. Your post last week about your son stunned me…knowing that you had lost others so recently…so sorry for the loss of your son. and I feel bad that he won’t be there to see his kids grow up…Glad they have you, but it’s not the same…They need to know that they are loved and I’m sure you will be loving them a lot.

        1. Thank you Marg! And yes, I have lost so many lately…this is truly the worst of all. I will be there for his kids and keep his memory alive in them the rest of my life.

          1. Are your grandkids close by? Ours are 10 minutes away and I see them often…Tj has the “engineering” gene his Cappy had…They had a special relationship and TJ is having a tough time..So is Lorelei, but Tj has always been a bit more sensitive…I ordered an educational gift geared toward building that I hope helps, they will get a package monthly for a bit. Both kids spoke at Dave’s Memorial service, through tears, but made everyone proud. Always thought we would both live long enough to see them grow into adulthood. There are no givens, are there?

          2. Marg, my sons 2 live right next door..the other 3 live in Vermont, but we see them a lot. All 5 of them made a board for the memorial and wrote their feelings on it..And no Marg there are no givens..

  8. Wish we were closer sweetie. I’d HUG ya and I guarantee I’d make ya laugh. I am here if you need to talk; need a shoulder to lean on or whatever. Just not COOKING baha. Love ya and seriously do think of you every day!!!

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