Do you wonder, “How can I be supportive when I live far away?” Or, have you concluded it is too difficult to support someone from a distance and think, “I wish I lived closer so I can be supportive.”
There’s much you can do to show support from afar, and you can still make a difference in helping loved ones deal with loss. What you choose to do depends on your willingness to be involved and the needs or desires of your loved one.
Here are some ideas of what’s worked for others:
1. Take your cues on telephone calls as they may disturb both privacy and routines. Ask, “Is it okay if I call on Sunday? What would be a good time?” And then make sure you do call so they’re not waiting and disappointed.
2. If it’s okay to call, you might choose a day of the week and a specific time, checking in weekly to let them know they are in your thoughts.
3. If they prefer you not call, use email as a way to communicate. It’s not intrusive and it allows the recipient to read and respond at their leisure. And it also lets them know they are not forgotten.
4. Ask if there’s something specific you can do to help; you can conduct online research or ask for a contact list so you can call others with updates.
5. Mail a package of goodies every other week or once a month. You can get a small, flat rate box from the postal service and fill it with homemade cookies or other treats.
6. Ask if there is a favorite take-out food outlet. If so, buy a gift card for a dinner and its one less night they have to worry about a meal.
The effort you make will mean so much to someone feeling so alone. And you’ll feel good in the process.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.