In contrast, in the twelve months after her husband died, a neighbor’s daughter did something thoughtful for her mom every month on the date of her dad's death. One month it was a candy bar on her pillow and another month, a scarf on the front seat of her car. When her daughter was out of town, she asked her husband to place a bouquet of flowers on her mom’s dresser. He willingly did so during his lunch break. Her daughter’s thoughtfulness was a bright spot in a very difficult year.
When someone dies, while we’re touched with sadness, many of us quickly pick up the pieces of our lives and get back to our daily routines. Not so for the families who have lost a loved one. So what can we do to honor and remember the loved ones of our family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors?
We can remember them and acknowledge the loss, whether it’s been two years or a decade. It can be as simple as a note, a card, a text message, or even a phone call around the anniversary of the death, letting them know that you're remembering their loved one and you’re thinking of them too. If you have a sweet memory of the deceased or something special that always reminds you of them, share it. It will bring a smile at a time tinged with sadness.
What if you want to do something more tangible? You can make a donation in their memory to their school, a library, a food bank, community nonprofit, or any organization that you feel is appropriate. Ask that an acknowledgement be made to a family member, or, just make a donation in their name because it feels good to honor their memory.
Your thoughtfulness and memories will not make the day or week more painful to family members; they’re already keenly feeling their loss. But your kindness might warm their heart. It helps to know that while their loved one is gone, their lives mattered, and they have not been forgotten.
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 at a reduced price for 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.