I am in the middle of grief. I am not down or overly sad. I’m am not physically tired but my brain cannot handle anymore placated niceties. Most days I do not want to hear any voices that I must respond to. Ah! Grief. We all go through it sooner or later and we are all different in how we go through it. One way is not better than the other unless you aim to harm yourself or someone else. Grief just may change you all together. However, I am not so much as addressing those who mourn but rather those who will sit in the ashes or those who simply want to be of service to the mourner(s). There are some things that helped me and perhaps they will spur some ideas for you to help someone else experiencing grief.
1. Thank you cards and stamps. I had a few of these on hand but sooner or later i want to express my gratitude. The are no written rules on this. My mom sent her cards out 5 days after the funeral. Mine will go out about 3 weeks afterwards. The gift is having them available for whenever. You can even offer to help with sentiments, addressing and stamping.
2. Remembrance Favors. These are things used in remembrance of the deceased love one. I will be ordering a memorial candle and gifting one to my sister and brother. I have ordered remembrance ribbons to place in my thank you cards. Necessary? No. Nice gesture? Of course. Having a remembrance item delivered to the grieving -after several (few)weeks is best in my opinion. Initially everyone shows up and within 5 days, the mourner will be all alone. This is a good and honoring way to circle back and say hey, I’m thinking about!
I own a gift box business. Since we have been up and running, the number 1 requested gift box is the pre-curated and customed-made grief box. Order one (hopefully from us) and have it delivered with a message from you. Many offer free shipping!
3. Household goods. Friends, relatives (near and far), perhaps coworkers and church family will converge at once. Household staples will need to be replenished. Fill a basket with tissue, paper towels or napkins, dishwashing detergent, laundry detergent etc … ask if you can put it away for them. This will also depend on how well they know you.
4. Lend a hand. Sweep, mop, serve guests, keep the bathroom stocked with tissue. Perhaps use some wipes and wipe door handles and the bathroom (thanks COVID). Wash dishes. Monitor the food; does something need to be refrigerated? Drinks need to be replenished? Just do it. Being bombarded with questions is draining during this time.
5. Plant care. There will be lots of flowers and plants. Refresh flowers, change the water if necessary. Water the plants and buy some of those clear plastic holders for plants so that the moisture will not ruin the furniture. After a few weeks, drop off some potting soil and pots. If you have a green thumb, offer to repot the plant. We have a nice water spot on the piano from one of the plants.
6. Meals. Everyone will drop off some food in the beginning. When the dust settles, offer to take them to lunch, a picnic, or drop and run. If there are children, offer to bake cookies with them. Go for a walk.
7. My final thing is to just sit and listen. If I could have laid my head in my BFF’s lap and just say what was in my heart (good, bad,ugly) and then got up and went to a Mexican food restaurant that would have been the best!!
Crowds energize some people but others find them draining. Watch for signs of distress. And do not make them repeat the same story over and over again by asking those lurking questions: how you doing? What happened? What are you going to do? When will you start to go through his/her things? If you know them well then it may be best to wait until the two of you are alone to ask those imposes questions.
These are just things I observed personally. What would you add or take away?