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?
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
clichés. '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
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.