It can be hard to know just what to say to someone who’s just lost a loved one. The important thing to remember is not to let it keep you from reaching out, no matter how difficult or awkward it may seem. Don’t just ask if you can do anything, Harvard Health says that transfers the burden to the bereaved. Instead, offer concrete actions.
Here are six things you can do to help someone in their time of sorrow.
- Ask if you can run specific errands. It may seem like the world stops for a loss, but it doesn’t. Dry cleaning still needs to be picked up, groceries need to be bought, bills paid. Then there’s the ones related to the funeral, like picking up food; organizing guests, especially those from out of town; and handling flowers and other arrangements. Pick a task or group of tasks to tackle.
- Man the phones. Their phone is likely to be ringing off the hook, and it can be exhausting talking to everyone. Offer to take a shift on the phone, keeping a record of messages for your loved one to return later, when they’ve got more energy for it. If you’re both comfortable with it, you might offer to make some calls or emails on their behalf, letting people know about services and other arrangements.
- Clean up. Offer to spend the day cleaning up after visitors and keeping the house presentable. Throw out food that’s been left out or has gone over, and make sure to keep plenty of room in the fridge for food people are bringing by. Keep a list of who brought what and if they need dishes returned. If needed, organize people to bring ice and ice chests, or call around and see if you can rent a fridge for a few days to store extra food.
- Take care of children and pets. See if you can take the kids to the park or walk the dog. Help with homework. Children have special needs during grief, says the American Hospice Foundation, and taking time to focus on them can be a big help.
- Write thank you notes. It can be a daunting task to tackle thank you notes after the outpouring of love and support around a death. Offer to help keep track of gifts, flowers and other tributes. Organize addresses and cards, or to take the finished notes to the post office.
- Keep it going. Continue the visiting and support after the immediate needs of the funeral. Psychology Today points out that the grieving goes on long past the service and that calls and visits months out from a death may be even more important than the ones in the immediate aftermath.
For more grief support resources, visit the Bevis Funeral Home online Grief Support Guide or call today at (850) 385-2193.