The Humboldt Broncos tragedy has really made me stop and think about all those who are suffering from their loss. Everyone that is trying to pickup the pieces and support the injured. I sat down and asked the question but how can we help anyone that is grieving? What can we do? What do we say? After researching and from my own experience I have come up with some more suggestions to help those who are grieving. In Part One I covered such topics as: “Being Sympathetic”, “Choosing Your Words Carefully”, and “Don’t Avoid Them” to name a few.
Be Reliable, Be There For Them, Be Present
If you say you are going to stop by later make sure you do. Don’t tell them you will call them if you aren’t going to. If you offer to pick up something for them make sure you do. This is no time to upset them more by making promises that you aren’t going to keep.
Be there, stay with them if they need you to. Offer to stay with them overnight if you can. It isn’t easy being left alone, especially overnight after you have lost someone. It is nice to have someone around. Just having you available and reliable can help with their grief.
Keep In Touch and Available
Don’t disappear after the funeral. After it is over they will still need your support. Stay in touch with them and available.
If you can’t be with them at least give them a call but make it short. They won’t likely feel like talking a lot. Just tell them you are there for them and ask them if there is anything they need. Let them know you will check in with them later and make sure you do. Phone calls are more personal but in many cases the grieving person won’t even pick up the phone.
If you can’t call them send them off a quick text. Just by letting them know you are thinking about them is all you need to do.
Contact is important, a phone call, a text, an email even a personal hand written note can help. There will be many times during their grieving that they will feel very much alone. Reaching out in any way you can is important.
Share Memories and Stories
Don’t avoid talking about their loved one, share a memory or two. A nice memory of the person who has passed is important. Especially sharing a special story or memory you have about them with the person who is grieving.
If something comes to mind about their loved one that you want to share, write it down. Keep a journal if you have had lots of memories you can share. Through all the commotion it is very easy to forget what you wanted to say to them. Make sure you share this journal and these memories with them when you are alone with them and things have quietened down.
Sit with them and go through pictures of their loved one. Read their sympathy cards and guest book. They may appreciate sharing this with someone or they may want to do it when they are alone.
Help, Help, Help
How can I help the person is too distraught? They may get many offers of help so do not be insulted if they don’t take your offer of help. You can always help later when everyone else disappears. Just be there later for them if needed.
They will likely be so upset they won’t even be able to think about what needs done. Helping does not mean being all over them offering help. Help is also doing the little things for them. There are so many ways you can help. Offer your help and let them know you are there to help out. Some may not want to accept your help as they don’t want to feel obligated. Give it anyway, don’t let them hold you back.
Here are a few ways you can help make things easier for them:
- As a Billet Mom you are no stranger to making meals so cook extra and take them a meal. You may want to make several meals for them. You don’t have to take a ton of food to them after all they may not feel like eating. Just having something on hand they can heat up is a good idea.
- Bake for them. Just making up a fruit loaf, cookies or squares can be a big help. These are easy to serve with coffee or tea for unexpected company.
- Offer to babysit or pick the kids up from school
- Get groceries for them. They may just need bread, eggs and milk but offer to pick it up.
- Take the dog for a walk.
- Offer to do a load of laundry.
- If the kids need lunches you can make them.
- Offer to make calls for them if that is what they need.
- Help them sort through the deceased belongings. This is a tough one but offer to but only if they want you to. This can be a very touchy and difficult task and will bring many tears. They may prefer to do this on their own. Don’t touch or move anything in their home unless they are OK with it.
Keep in mind they won’t likely ask for help but they still need it. Help with whatever you can.
Don’t Forget About Them
Check in with them days, even weeks or months after the death has occurred.
This is likely one of the most important things you can do. In one period of my life when I was grieving, shortly after the funeral everyone disappeared from my life. My relatives and friends took a step back and just didn’t call. I didn’t hear from anyone. My only contact with the outside world was my roommate, the odd friend and my coworkers. I felt very much alone. Don’t let this happen. I don’t know why they left me to grieve on my own. Perhaps they didn’t know what to say or do but it was very difficult for me because I felt that there wasn’t anyone that cared.
Reaching Out Is Important
I am repeating myself but we need to make sure we stay in touch. Reaching out especially in the days and weeks after they have put their loved one to rest is extremely important. Don’t forget them keep in touch. Don’t even ask them to call you because they likely won’t. Usually a person that is grieving is just too upset to pick up the phone, don’t expect them to. Just make sure you call or text them. Check in on them. Drop by to see how they are doing and if there is anything you can get for them.
Again I repeat myself but this is important. Take a meal to them just pick up something on the way over. If they have already eaten don’t worry just leave it for them to have later. If you drop in around a meal time they may get flustered trying to figure out what to feed you. If you are comfortable in their kitchen and they don’t mind put the kettle on and make a cup of coffee or tea. Sit down and chat and find out if there is anything you can do to help.
Pickup Some Flowers Or A Plant, Makeup A Basket
After a week or two or even a month has passed pick up some flowers or a plant for them. Make them up a pamper basket with a book of inspiration, quotes, or jokes, some bath bubbles or shower gel, and some lavender. Even include some chocolates or their favourite snack or candy.
In summary there are many ways we can help someone who is grieving. We can’t bring their loved one back but we can be there offering our support. We can do whatever we can to help them get through this very difficult time. They need to know that they are loved and that we are there for them. We can reach out to them in prayer, making a donation and supporting them through helping them as best we can.