In 2007, when my Aunt Barbara passed away, it was one of the most painful losses that I had experienced at the time.
During the loss and my time of grieving, I noticed some not-so-flattering actions from people in my life that I considered friends, associates, and close co-workers.
Over the past 15 years, I’ve lost several family members along the way, and I said to myself that if someone I know experiences loss, I will not treat them the way that I was treated during my loss.
Here is what I’ve learned along the way:
Words of Comfort and Support
When my aunt passed away, I finally reached out to a few people and expressed my hurt that they did not acknowledge my loss and their response was, “I just didn’t know what to say.”
Just say something! That is my best advice. You may feel like you do not have the right words of comfort, a good sympathy message or a fabulous condolences quote but what you must remember that the words of comfort are not to show how word savvy you are but to let the other person know that you acknowledge the loss they suffered, and you care. So rather than opting not to say anything because you don’t have the right words, saying something is better than nothing.
If you are uncomfortable saying something, in person then send a simple text, e-mail, or drop a card in the mail.
Be there for Someone Who is Grieving
I will admit that I am not a fan of funerals. To me, there is nothing sadder than hearing the wailing cries of someone hurt due to the loss of a loved one. However, funerals are not about you, they are about the person who has suffered the loss and you need to put your feelings aside for a few minutes to show your support during a difficult time.
If you do not feel you can handle sitting through a funeral, there are other ways to be there for someone who is grieving:
- Make an appearance at the host house of the family.
- Visit the family during the visitation period, which is typically prior to the funeral. This allows you to make an appearance, show your support and not have to stay for the funeral.
Kind Gestures and Gift Ideas
A kind gesture is always a good idea when someone loses a loved one. Their focus is always on their grief and/or funeral arrangements. The least of their concerns is hosting the many visitors coming that come and go at the host house.
Most people stopping by the home will bring food for the family. However, consider being the person to provide other needed supplies that are often forgotten:
- Postage Stamps. Sending out thank you cards when everything settles down is always on the list of things to do. Guaranteed the person who lost someone will needs postage stamps.
- Toilet Tissue for the bathroom of the house when you have tons of people coming in and out for, at least a week, leading up to the funeral.
- Food-To-Go Containers are always a good idea. Although the food is brought in so that the family does not have to cook, there is always someone at the house that wants to take food home.
- Paper Goods
- Paper plates
- Paper Towels
- Ice & a Styrofoam Ice Chest
- Hand Sanitizer
- Plastic Serving Gloves
- Trash Bags
There are so many ways to support someone who is grieving. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you show support. The absence of words of comfort or a kind gesture is the worst thing that you can do. You might think no one notices but trust me when I tell you, it is noticed, it is remembered, and it only takes a few minutes out of your life to show someone who lost a loved one.