My last blog focused on things not to say to someone who is grieving. This month I am offering suggestions from both my professional and personal experience on things that a compassionate family member or friend can do to show their love and concern.
1) Offer practical help. Rather than saying "if you need anything, just call," you be the one to make the call and offer to pick up groceries, walk the dog, clean the house, take the kids to the park, mow the lawn, etc.
2) Offer to just be present--get together over coffee, go for a walk together, sit together in church. Provide the opportunity for the grieving person to open up if that is what they want and need to do at that time.
3) Say the deceased's name and continue to tell stories. It is foolish to believe that saying their name will cause more pain. It is always comforting to know that others remember them.
4) Remember the times that are especially difficult--their loved one's birthday, the day that they died, holidays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduation day if they have a child who would have been graduating, their wedding anniversary, etc.
5) Instead of asking "How are you?", ask "How are you feeling/coping today?"
6) Offer them the opportunity to do social activities with a small group that they know and have enjoyed previously. They will know when the time is right to agree to this and join in.
7) Ask questions, such as "what is the most difficult for you right now" as it will give them a chance to talk openly and may point you in a direction to provide help.
8) Allow them to cry if they need, without trying to cheer them up, as tears are okay and a part of the grieving process. Tears are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of deep love.
9) Give/send cards, a plant, candle, book, lotion, tea or coffee, soup mix, etc. long after all the other cares and flower deliveries have ended to show that they are still in your thoughts.
10) STAY IN TOUCH!