DEATH: Day 24 of 31 Days of Creative Caring


 

It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. We all know that our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end up underneath some sheet, never to wake up. And yet it is always a surprise when it happens to someone we know. It is like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark, and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down, through the air, and there is a sickly moment of dark surprise as you try and readjust the way you thought of things.
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid 

 

How can we creatively care for people during those days of trying to “readjust” after a time of loss?

Quite honestly, it depends on how well we know the ones left behind.  If we’re simply caring acquaintances, a card (store-bought or handmade) is often enough.
 

 

If we’re a neighbor or close friend, perhaps something more “close to home” is appropriate …

 
Take food (but be sure they need it and will have room to store it) or host a meal for the family of the deceased
 
Provide paper goods  (including toilet paper) if there will be a lot of guests
 

 
Meet a last-minute need
I know of a woman who took plastic floor runners to her friend’s home when the funeral day turned rainy. She knew loved ones would be traipsing through the house, and she didn’t want a muddy carpet to be something her friend had to deal with in the midst of her grief.  Now that’s creative caring!
 
Listen
Nothing more.  Just be there for someone who’s hurting.
 
Send a letter … from your heart to theirs
 
Make a donation in memory of the deceased. If possible, match it to their interest or personality. This is often preferred (even requested) instead of flowers as it is a gift that “keeps on giving.” There are many, many worthwhile organizations that will benefit from such generosity.  Some of my personal favorites are:

 
Remember that it’s often when all the family and friends have left … and the reality of loss sets in … that we’re most needed.  Sometimes it’s okay to just wait awhile.
 

How have you reached out to others (or received from others) during a time of grief?

 
This is part of a 31-day series. To read previous posts, go HERE.

Comments

  1. I love the part where you said to make sure they have room for it and need it first. We are a “fooding” community here. So often, we send it because we really and truly do want to DO something but don’t know what to do. I have learned to always ask myself if what I’m doing is for the grieving family or to make myself feel better. I try, then, to choose something that will truly bless them.

    Believe it or not, over the years the one thing that more friends and family have mentioned as something they appreciated was a hand written note (instead of a card) from me. I’m a mediocre cook at best, but God gave me the ability to say what is in my heart when I write it. That’s my primary gift of caring in sympathy.

    Well that and pineapple casserole, which I DID forget to send you! I will dig out the recipe. Sorry, Susan.

  2. These are wise and helpful words about how to comfort a bereaved person. My friend suggested I listen to understand, rather than listen to reply, and I like that idea and do that.

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