Death is an inevitable part of the circle of life. Yet the final separation of a loved one from another often leaves bystanders feeling helpless, and usually at a loss for what to say or do. Here are some small gestures of kindness that can help the bereaved.
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1. Be Yourself
Speak in a way and behave in a way that is natural for you. Continue the same relationship you had before: close friend, acquaintance, friendly neighbor, or work buddy. Offer help only if you are able to follow through, and in a way that makes sense in your life. Can you drive the carpool? Offer to drop off a meal? Mow the lawn once a week without even knocking on the door? Take the kids on a playdate for the afternoon?
2. Leave a Note or Message
If you call to check in and the phone is not answered, leave a message. Stick a note in the mailbox that says I am thinking about you. All it takes is a small gesture to let someone know that you care. Even if your friend doesn’t respond, know that your words of encouragement are beneficial and comforting.
3. Keep Checking Back
The first few weeks after someone dies are often filled with people willing to help, to listen, or to check in and see how things are going. But as time passes, the calls have dropped off and grieving people often feel alone. This simple act of checking on your friend regularly will show that you care, making your friend more comfortable and secure.
4. Give Freely
Grieving takes a lot of energy. Sometimes that means common courtesies are neglected. Don’t feel bad if your card, flowers, meal, or note is not acknowledged. Thanks may not come for some time, but know that your care makes a difference. Your thoughtfulness has the potential to be a light in the grieving person’s day.