My husband Tom and I lost three of our parents in three years. While we grieved our losses, our friends showed kindness and support in various ways. I’ll always remember their encouragement while our grief was fresh. I was surprised how much little gestures touched me. They were my teachers and I want to show up in similar ways when I have opportunities. There’ll always be despairing people who need our encouragement.
Make a phone call.
Send a text or voicemail. A close friend left a message saying she wanted to talk with me. I know her heart and intention. She really wanted to give me time to talk so she could listen. I needed that.
Express your condolences on social media.
Tell the family why their loved one was special to you. A friend made the nicest comment: Your mom must have been a wonderful lady because she has such a special daughter. Another friend remembered how sweet my mom was years ago when we were teenagers.
Don’t let perfectionism or fear deter you from making contact.
Don’t try to be super-spiritual or religious. Please don’t say that God needed the person in heaven. It’s not our job to come up with an explanation as to why the person died.
Send a card. A friend from many years back sent both Tom and I cards when our parents passed away. It meant so much that she’d go to the effort. I appreciate snail mail so much and always remember the people who wrote.
Bring a meal. When my neighbor’s mom died, I brought over a chicken casserole hot from the oven. I had no idea if they needed food, but I decided to just do it. When I surprised them with the meal, they’d been sitting around exhausted and numb. They dove into the warm comfort food and it really hit the spot.
Bring fresh flowers.
Just say I’m sorry. The simplest messages help when you feel depleted. Once my friend said she felt comforted and loved when I said those two words to her while she was in a hard place.
Be specific about how you want to help. I want to bring some food over. What’s a good time to bring it? When said in a straightforward manner, it’s hard for the recipient to refuse. If you say, “Let me know if you need anything” there’s a good chance they won’t contact you.
Leave a bag of snacks and drinks on the porch. You can’t imagine how helpful it is to have supplies on hand for people who may stop by. To make a grocery store run while you’re grieving and emotionally drained, is exhausting.
Bring a green plant. Our friends brought us a beautiful peace lily. A thriving green plan represents life; that plant made us smile.
Show up. There’s something so special about having friends in close proximity. Touch is tangible comfort like nothing else. We’ll always remember the folks who came to the hospital and waited with us and everyone who came to the funeral. Remember, it’s never too late to visit someone who’s experienced loss. Their loved one is never far from their thoughts it’s healing and comforting for them to be able to express their feelings to one who’ll listen.
Pray for them. Ask their permission to put a hand on their shoulder and pray. Nothing is better than that!
Isn’t it amazing how God has wired us with the ability to be an encouragement to others. We can truly alter their sadness and bring them courage. Even simple actions mean a great deal at just the right time. I’m thankful for real life examples that have taught me to be a better friend.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.Maya Angelou
Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4