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Friday, 30 September 2016

Flashback Friday: When Someone Dies

Today is Flashback Friday, and in light of my pastor's recent passing, I thought it would be appropriate to share the following, which I originally wrote just last October:


Today's post is a bit more serious than some of the other Ten on Tuesday subjects. We've been asked to share ten things we can do to help a friend or family member when someone they love has passed away. I know a couple of people who've recently lost someone, so this really hits home. My son's teenage friend lost her mom after a courageous battle with cancer just before school resumed; just this week my friend's son passed away suddenly at 43. What can you do at such a time as this?
 
1. Don't just offer to help; do something. The bereaved are often in shock and feeling overwhelmed. Take a meal, sit with them, offer to clean their home (I don't think you want to do this last item without asking).
 
2. Lend a listening ear. They undoubtedly want to talk about their loved one and the grief they are experiencing.
 
3. Don't try to 'fix' their situation. It's not fixable.
 
4. As tempting as it is, don't offer clich├ęs. 'He's in a better place,' 'she's no longer in any pain,' may be true, but in many ways offer no comfort right now. A simple and heartfelt 'I'm so sorry for your loss' is much better.
 
5. Send flowers or make a donation to the charity of choice as indicated in the obituary. I usually make a donation one dollar for every year of the person's life.
 
6. If you have any, share your stories of the deceased, including those that evoke laughter. Laughter is always a good medicine. Also those that show the character of the person who's passed on.
 
7. Send a card. There's no need to say anything extra; let the card speak for you. But if this is someone who lives at a distance and you won't be able to be there for in person, feel free to include a note or letter that shares a story or two as outlined in point six.
 
8. Attend the visitation if you can. My husband and I really dislike visitations. They put the bereaved in a bad spot - they're forced to hold a kind of receiving line, offer comfort to others when they're in their own pain, and listen to far too many cliches. On the other hand, if everyone felt as we did, no one would show up at all, and I'm not sure how that would go over.
 
9. Attend the funeral service if you can. In some ways, it's less intense than the visitation and gives you the chance to show your support. There's nothing worse than going to a sparsely attended funeral - it seems like the deceased or their loved ones have no friends. You also learn more about the person and have a chance to share your stories with others afterwards.  But don't just show up for the food!
 
10. If you're part of a group of mutual friends, coordinate the group's efforts. Have a rotation of meal-deliverers, listeners, comforters.  A burden shared is a burden lightened.
 
Life is busy and it can be hard to be there for someone who needs you. If we all have time for Facebook and blog posts, though, we have no excuse not to touch base with people who've lost a loved one. A quick e-mail or phone call can mean a great deal. And don't forget the person in the months that lie ahead, with all of those first 'anniversaries.' They often have a lot of support at the beginning but are forgotten as time passes. Remember to check in periodically to let them know you're thinking of them, especially on days that will be particularly difficult.

4 comments:

  1. These are all very good suggestions. Times when we encounter those who have experienced loss of loved ones can be sometimes awkward and difficult, but just showing that we care somehow can make a difference in their circumstances--sometimes a very big difference.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely, Arlee - especially as time goes by and the rest of us go back to our lives, it's important to realize that their grief continues and they need to know people haven't forgotten them.

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  2. Good advice. If I lost someone in my family and heard they were in a better place, I don't think that would make me feel better whether it was true or not. You are right in that we can't make someone else's pain go away, but we can acknowledge it.

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