We can show up. Very few people can recall everyone who came to the funeral home but they can tell you who did not. Learn to listen. God gave us one mouth and two ears. We should learn to use them accordingly. Allow people who are grieving the freedom to talk and refrain from giving advice. Show love and compassion long after the tragedy whether it is a death, divorce or illness. It is a true friend who continues to provide support and comfort months and years after loss. Drop personal notes and cards in the mail in the weeks and months that follow tragedy. It is comforting to know that someone still thinks of you when everyone else has seemingly forgotten. Give hugs. They feel good. Send food in the weeks that follow tragedy. Many times families are overwhelmed with food the first few days when grieving families have little or no appetite. In the weeks that follow tragedy a nice, warm meal is appreciated. Volunteer to answer the phone the first few days after a tragedy. Some grieving people like to talk about their loss. Others may not be up to it and would appreciate a break from the phone calls. Assist in addressing personal notes. Some grieving people desire to do this, but it may be too overwhelming to start alone. Offer to pick up the cards and help with the mailing and addressing. Ask questions that offer specific choices. For example, “Is there anything specific that you would like me to do for you, like answer the phone, pick up note cards, run some errands, etc. . ?” Ask if help is needed in making plans for the funeral service. Everyone will handle tragedy different. Some grieving people want to be involved in every little detail while others will prefer to have help, but will not ask for it. Offer, if you are close enough to the grieving person, to assist with the loved ones clothes, photos, or personal belongings. Again, every grieving person is different. Some people want their loved one’s room left exactly as it was. Others who have lost loved ones want their things put away immediately. Be sensitive to the needs of those who grieve. Avoid being judgmental when the hurting does not respond in a preconceived way. Remember the tragedy that one is going through is a chapter in their life and that people respond to loss in many different ways.
Marsha Johnson is a writer, speaker and the author of Emerald’s Garden – How to grieve, mourn and recover from loss. See http://www.marshajohnson.net to sign up for your free Grief Recovery e-newsletter.