The bereaved won’t call. Mourners are too drained to take the initiative, don’t know what to ask for, or don’t know what someone is willing to do. And what if the bereaved do take the initiative to call and ask for help? Chances are friends or loved ones won’t be available exactly when assistance is needed. And the last thing someone grieving a loss needs is to ask for help and be turned down.
So how do friends and loved ones reach out and extend the needed support?
1. Offer something that’s comfortable for you to do. Suggest dropping off a dinner on Thursday or Friday and ask, “Which day is best?” One friend makes a point of calling before heading out to the grocery or pharmacy to see if the bereaved has errands that she can run with her own.
2. Make your offer specific. For example, communicate which day you have free time and volunteer to come visit, help, or run an errand. One friend made a standing offer of two free hours every Tuesday, helping the bereaved organize the mail and answer correspondence. Another friend stayed in the house and watched the children for a few hours, allowing the bereaved uninterrupted time to handle chores.
3. If doing something anonymous is more comfortable, drop off a gift. Neighbors grieving a loss were appreciative of a dozen bagels left on their doorstep. Another friend was touched to arrive home and find a home-baked banana bread in the mailbox.
The bereaved will need much support in the short- and long-term. Whatever specific help you can extend will be appreciated.
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, available in ebooks 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.