Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Today's Ten On Tuesday topic is 10 Things You Can Do To Be Supportive When Someone Dies. As Carole mentioned, this isn't our usual fun topic but it is important, and sadly, a part of life. Everyone experiences grief differently and in their own personal way, but these things have been helpful to me, both the giving and receiving of them.

  1. Make food. This may be a cliche', but people want to do something to help, and I think food does that.
  2. Express your sympathy. We all wish there were magic words to take away the pain, but there are not. Simply saying how very sorry you are can be supportive.
  3. Offer hugs.
  4. Ask if they would like to talk about their loved one. When my mother died, I did not want to talk about it in the immediate aftermath. There was no way to avoid much of the conversation as we were planning her funeral and people were offering their condolences. One of the nicest notes I received was from my sister-in-law who knows me well. She said she knew that I probably didn't want to talk about it so she wasn't going to call, but she would be there when I did want to share memories. 
  5. Offer to help with all the "stuff" that needs to be done. There are a million mundane details that need to be taken care of after someone dies. Many of them need to be handled by the family, but you can offer a ride and company to the courthouse, attorney, bank, or DMV. Maybe they need help watering plants, mowing, raking leaves, picking up dry cleaning, or grocery shopping.
  6. Offer help with thank you notes. My mother was a postmaster in a small town for many years, and had long-term relationships with lots of her customers. Because of this, there were multitudinous thank you notes to write; this felt like an almost overwhelming task for me. The family may want to write notes themselves, but you can help by gathering addresses, cards, and stamps, addressing envelopes, and going to the post office.
  7. Make specific offers. Many people told us to call if we needed anything, and I've certainly said this myself, but it may be difficult for the grieving person to ask for help. Ask if Tuesday would be a good day to drop off lasagna, how about sharing a cup of tea on Wednesday afternoon, or can you take a walk together on Saturday morning.
  8. Be there. This might mean sitting quietly with the grieving person, really listening when they want to talk, or just being there when they don't.
  9. Continue to check in. The period immediately after someone dies can pass in a dark, heartbroken haze for the bereaved. When some time passes and the loss gradually becomes even more real, grief can become more profound. Your support may be needed even more after several months and throughout that first year of awful firsts without the loved one.
  10. Knit. This is more of a long-term thing, but a comforting shawl or afghan can offer tangible support.


  1. I love your list even though I hate the reason behind it. And I think being specific in your offer of help is really important. I'm going to try and remember that.

  2. The specific offers jumped out at me too. And I think anytime you want to offer help ~ whether it is a death, a birth, someone moving, etc. you can't go wrong with delivering food.

  3. What a thoughtful list, Bonny. And you're so right! The specific offers of help are KEY. (Because it's really hard to call and ask for help . . . when you're in such profound pain yourself.) Life is hard; it's up to us to make it better for someone else. XO

  4. That's a wonderful and thoughtful list Bonny. And #10 is great. I knit my doc a pair of socks when her husband died and I believe she was quite happy to receive them.

  5. That's a fantastic list, and the specific offers really jumped out at me, too. Also, the not forgetting about people, continuing to check in with them. Grief is a process, not an event, and you've really come up with a great list.

  6. You wrote a thoughtful and thorough list Bonny. And how did I forget knitting? I love the idea of a comfort shawl.

  7. We've all been through a difficult grieving process, sometimes without support of friend or family. We had many of the same thoughts, Bonny. Your list gave me even more to think about and incorporate when needed.

  8. That's a beautiful list. The help with thank you notes is a wonderful idea. Thank you for sharing! xo.


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