It seems to me there should be some kind of training for this. Maybe it should be a requirement to complete a brief training course in high school or a required basic life skills class before starting our first job. Knowing what to say, what to do, and how to continue showing support after the initial loss could be beneficial to all of us.
Unfortunately, we don’t have required grief training. People grieve in different ways, so there’s no easy solution, but we can start by acknowledging that canned sayings such as, “I’m sorry for your loss” just don’t cut it.
More natural phrasing like, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this” or a simple “I’m so sorry” sound more sincere.
It’s even better to take action. If you’d like, tell them “I’m here for you,” but then actually be there.
Showing up and giving support is harder than saying, “Please let me know if there is anything I can do,” but real support is what people need.
- Send your friend or family member something so they know they’re not alone. Generally, there will already be a lot of flowers for the funeral and neighbors tend to bring casseroles, particularly if your loved one belongs to a church or other involved organization.
A more personal gift can be comforting. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what to send, Laurelbox is a wonderful company that can help you. They have an array of items to choose from to make an appropriate gift box, or you can select their already assembled boxes designed specifically for different kinds of loss. To check out Laurelbox, click here.
- If you live nearby, go and visit your loved one. Don’t ask what they need, just look around,and start doing it. Run errands, do laundry, clean up, help them write thank you notes after the funeral, and assist with paperwork if they need it. Take your cue from them. If they want to talk about their loved one, encourage it. If they don’t, respect that, too.
Of course, how much you can do depends on your relationship and the kind of person they are. they look offended when you start dusting or doing yardwork, ask them if it’s okay to help. If you ask before, they’ll automatically, politely decline.
If you don’t live nearby, call them and say you’re thinking of hiring a cleaning, laundry, or gardening service for a session, and which would they prefer?
None of those are what they want, they’re more likely to tell you what they do want if you’ve given them alternate options.
- Once the initial grieving period has passed and the casserole supply has stopped, consider making dinner for your friend, buying them a gift card to their favorite restaurant, or sending them a temporary subscription to a food box service. If they’re not likely to cook the ingredients in a food delivery system, stick to prepared food.
Taking action will make your loved one feel less alone. Make sure to keep in contact not just after the initial loss, but throughout the first couple of years. Send a message that you’re thinking of them, especially on difficult days such as the birthday and death anniversary of the one that’s passed away.
Also, reach out to others that care and might chip in for these purchases, if they’re not in your budget.