Death is something few want to talk about but ironically, we are all forced to talk about it at some point or points in our life. Let’s face it, if it were a comfortable conversation, then something would be wrong with us. Sometimes what we don’t understand is often the most awkward thing to deal with. Death is no different.
When someone dies especially in a tragic situation, the next of kin literally have the breath taken out of them. In a tragic situation, you don’t have time to get things in order. Usually, you have little to no time to prepare. This is why the next of kin need the love and support of their friends. They don’t need you to be all awkward, they just need you to be you!
If you’ve ever lost a loved one you have heard “let me know if you need anything”. Guilty as charged! It’s the perfect response to let someone know we care, right? WRONG! You see, I truly believe that most people who say “let me know if you need anything” truly mean it; however, most grieving people don’t know what they need and if they do, they don’t want to burden people with to do’s. Again, remember death is awkward for everyone. Life is busy and the last thing someone wants to do is burden you with their awkward situation. There are 1000 things you can do and at the end of the day most of them are not “wrong”. The key is to do SOMETHING. This is where relying on your talents can come in handy.
My mother-in-law can cook, I mean she can really cook. Anyone who makes every part of their dessert from scratch and then plans her meal around the said dessert is worthy of being titled a good cook. I’ve had friends ask how they can get invited to one of her mini Thanksgiving Saturday lunches. It’s obvious one of her talents is her ability to cook so this is a great way she can help a family in need. Everyone needs to eat whether they want to or not even if they are grieving.
Death usually hits when your pantry is not stocked for visitors. When someone dies, you get lots of visitors especially if you family lives out of town. I have friends who try to think of the convenience things to make meals and an influx of visitors easier, – toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, bottled water, snacks, etc.
Then there is the friend who just knows what you need without you asking: brings you a phone charge and spare set of clothes to the hospital, goes to your house to pack a bag, brings you the random stuff you need- chapstick, caffeine fix, etc.
For a grieving person with kids, keeping a sense of normalcy for the kids can be a challenge. Instead of saying, let me know if you need help with the kids, maybe say, I’ll be by to pick the kids up for school. Is 7:10 ok? Or maybe, I can pick the kids up after school if you can let their teachers know. Do you want me to bring them home or take them somewhere else? Maybe your child is on the same ball team as the grieving person’s child. You can say, I’ll be glad to take your child to practice. I can pick him up at 6:00. Planning an outing to get the kid(s) out of the house can be a life saver for all- movies, play date, etc. Kids need extra attention when their parents are dealing with a close family loss, but few parents will ask someone to come and spend some time with their kids but they sure appreciate it when you make a plan.
Offer to take care of pets. Maybe say: if you leave me a key and tell me where the dog food is, I’ll make sure the dog is taken care of.
The next time you feel compelled to say “let me know if you need anything”, push those words far, far away and think of an action to offer. Less words and more action! I promise your friends will be so thankful!