When a family is struggling through a sudden illness or death of a loved one, we many times offer our socially distant hugs, condolences, and prayers. In our minds, we wish we could do more. Today at my table I am offering you 5 tips to help a grieving family and how you can make a difference.
As we approach Memorial Day, we think about all the loved ones we have buried. Many have served our country for our freedom in the USA. Others have just been the ones we loved and who supported us in our lives. Every year it seems like another loved one we know has entered their rest.
I have frequented the walls of funeral homes to discuss plans to bury a loved one at least three times in the past 30 years. Grief involves the planning and the changes that come to a family. I also know the other side where you wonder what you can do to help the family, how to give support and love to a grieving family.
From my past experiences here are some ideas of what you can do to give a helping hand or extend love.
5 Tips: These are the ways to help- Questions, Time, Presence, Love, and Prayers
1. Ask Questions
When you find out someone has died and you know them well, contact someone in the family or a person who would know what’s going on. Ask where the funeral is at, how you can help and the number of family coming. Find out if they need food for the family or places for the family to stay.
Or simply Call the family and ask them, “how are you doing?” and “How can I help?’
Most of the time this will be taken care of if extended family is involved and helps out. Maybe you are the extended family. Sometimes it is not so. Every family is different.
Practical and Meaningful Support is really what it comes down to.
2. Give them your Time/Service
Food takes time to prepare and is an easy way to help out a family. If you belong to their church the easiest way to help out is by bringing a salad to the church if the church asks for it, or just setting up, serving, cooking, and cleaning up.
Call the family and ask if bringing a meal would help them out. I know for the death of our father this fall It was very helpful with a house of 12 people to feed. It was so appreciated when someone we knew sent a tray of chocolate chip cookies to our place with another relative.
Another relative dropped a bag of groceries off. We were delighted to have buns, deli meat, cheese, crackers, bars, chips, plates, and napkins in the bag to help feed our crew at lunch. A crockpot of soup was brought over and that went perfectly with the sandwiches.
Another said they would make a meal and brought over BBQ pork, a salad, buns, beans, and dessert. These food items were all so appreciated as we all said goodbye to our father while on hospice care.
There are times when I have wondered what food should I bring? I made a friendly phone call and left a message asking what are you hungry for? My friend replied that they were tired of hot dishes and desired a salad and grilled chicken breast. That is exactly what I did. They were overjoyed.
Other times I sent a gift certificate for pizza in a card and said when the family gathers and you don’t want to cook pick up a pizza to eat together. This works great if you live on the other side of the USA and you know you won’t be able to drop by.
Other Acts of Service
One of my friends said she likes to drop by plates, napkins cups, and their favorite soda. That is always a good thing.
During the pandemic, I could only buy 1 box of Kleenex at the store, so when someone asks what we needed I suggested Kleenex. We got plenty and they were delighted to grab some for us.
Don’t be scared just give them a call and support them. Ask them what they need. One time we asked what else do you need and three of us went over to her house and cleaned it for her after the family left. We had fun together cleaning and she felt the relief of another responsibility off her shoulders.
Maybe they want you to take out the garbage or run an errand they don’t have time to do.
3. Give them your Presence/Listening Ear
You may not want to call but do it. Even if they are busy and don’t have time to talk, they will appreciate it if you leave a message or text. They will call you back if they want and you can ask what you can do to help or just listen to them. Friends called and listened to my day-to-day struggles or grief. I needed someone to listen to me and appreciated their time. It showed me they cared.
I appreciated those who came to the funeral and hugged me even if I knew they would only see me for 15 minutes. It showed me they loved me.
If you do visit them, don’t stay any longer than 20 minutes unless they ask you to stay. Some people just stay and stay and when you have a day of people who just stay and stay the day gets long and tiring.
4. Pray for them
Please pray for them. Pray for them and do not just say you will. I could tell that people prayed. God gave peace and worked out all the details because of the prayers of His people. Write a prayer to God for them and email it, text it or include it in a card.
5. Show Love with Cards, Notes, and Plants
If plants are your thing, then send a plant. I tried to keep the plants alive, but eventually, they didn’t last and after a few years they quit growing for me. Cards are nice if you can’t do any of the above or don’t know them that well. It still shows that you care and pray for them. Finally, Send them a note by email, text to show you care. If you do any of the 5 tips you will be showing your love.
Do Something to help a grieving family
Listen, pray, send a card, bring food, call them, visit them, sit by them, clean their house, buy them food, hug them, see what they need. They may not even know what they need. Be there for them. They need you. 5 Tips to help a grieving family.
Verses to Comfort
Who comforts us in all our trouble, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4
Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress, my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. Psalm 31:9
The lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Please comment with any ideas you may have or tips to help out a family.
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