A friend of a friend died last week. We hadn’t been in touch with the family in 10 years, and I vacillated on whether to attend the visitation. I not only decided to go, but I also encouraged my spouse to go. We were surprised and humbled when the daughters of the deceased lovingly embraced us. It was good to see them, and we were very glad we made the effort to attend.
The smallest gestures we make can have a significant and positive impact on the bereaved. A neighbor was grateful when a neighbor she did not know dropped off a dozen bagels for her extended family a few mornings after her daughter died. A friend got an unexpected thank-you note after writing a tribute for a deceased colleague in the online Guest Book following his death. The bereaved daughter was so appreciative that she took the time to track him down on LinkedIn.
The death of a loved one is terribly painful, and thoughtful gestures go a long way in easing the loneliness and isolation experienced by the bereaved. Here are some simple things you can do:
Attend the visitation, funeral, memorial service, or shiva.
Sign the Guest Book.
Write a message in the online Guest Book.
Add a photo to the online memorial page set up by the funeral home.
Send a condolence note.
Make a donation in memory of the deceased. If the family has indicated where they would like donations made, honor the request.
Document a story you remember about the deceased and share it with the bereaved in person or in writing.
Call the bereaved to check in and see how they are doing.
Invite the bereaved for coffee, lunch, or dinner.
When doing your shopping, pick up something for the bereaved: bread, muffins, tea, or a container of soup. Call ahead before dropping it off.
You can not underestimate the importance of your gestures, large and small. Each one brings the bereaved one step closer in their healing.
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 as e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "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.