And I am speaking from recent experience here…
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t ask us to make a decision. About anything, even something as simple as what to make for dinner. We can’t.
- Listen. Just listen. Sometimes that is better than any advice or words of condolence. We just need to talk.
- 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