When someone close to you has experienced a loss, the really tough part for them begins after the initial mourning period. The wave of people through their house is gone and there aren’t as many distractions. It can be lonely and the loss of their loved one that much more apparent, which is why showing your ongoing support after the first few days is just as important, if not more so. Here are some proactive things you can do to help your friend or family member:
- Set a regular time that you will meet up with them. This will be something they can look forward to that will be in their calendar as a regular occurrence.
- Continue to stay in touch via text, email or phone calls. A simple “I’m thinking of you today.” Don’t get insulted if your messages aren’t returned right away. The person will see and feel that they are loved; they may just not be ready to communicate that day. Keep trying, while not being overbearing.
- Try to tackle a project with them. Cleaning up the house, going through old clothes, etc. Whatever project they need to tackle, offer to tackle it with them.
- Send flowers or even a small treat on a regular basis, just because you are thinking of them. Something to brighten their day.
- If they have kids, offer to babysit to give them a break.
- Depending on their situation, for instance if they are very overwhelmed, a widow/widower who is elderly or one who has young children, you may want to continue to send them meals and organize a rotation with their friends and neighbors. You can set up a free meal schedule on www.caringorganizer.com.
And in cases where you have not had a chance to initially visit, remember it is never too late to show your support. It is natural to be hesitant to reach out afterwards because we think too much time has passed and it’s now awkward. A different way to think about it though is that for the mourner, it may be even more meaningful to reach out knowing that the wave of initial visitors is gone and they may be feeling alone.
The good news is it’s never too late to show your support. The person you care about will most definitely be touched by your gesture, even if it is some time later. Take the awkwardness away, take a deep breath and go for it!
Here are some more suggestions of what you can do:
- Write a personalized note, through a Facebook message, text, email or send a card. Make sure it’s personal and not something posted to the public. This will have deeper meaning. Say “I know you’ve gone through a hard time and I just want to let you know I’ve been thinking of you.”
- Send flowers, a gift basket or a treat with a note like “Hope this brightens your day a little.” This unexpected gesture will surely let them know they are supported and loved.
- Send a donation in memory of the person who passed away. If they were ill, send a donation to an organization that raises funds for the illness they had.
- Most importantly, don’t disappear after a few weeks. Be consistent. Be there for them and continue to stand by their side. Grief does not go away, but we find ways to move forward.
By Elisa Udaskin