When we hear that our friends or family members have lost a loved one…we often don’t know what to do to help them. Should we go visit…or leave them alone? Should we take something to them? If so, what should we take?
It’s hard to know what to do sometimes…but we all want to do something.
Having experienced a loss in our family last week, I was reminded of some wonderful ways you can help someone who is grieving.
First….just go be with them. If you can’t decide whether or not you should “bother” the family…just know that the ministry of “being there” is a wonderful one. Even if you don’t know what to say and how to act….just go. The family needs to be surrounded by people who love them and care. Stay for as short or as long of a time as you feel is right once you’re there.
Next…should you take something? If so, what should you take?
You don’t have to take anything. Just offering a hug and encouragement is enough. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of just being there. But, if you’d like to take something to help the family…here are a few suggestions:
The grieving may not have much of an appetite…but they do need to eat. Take a nice bunch of fruit…some muffins…a jar of trail mix…yogurt…anything that is easy to eat.
Take food that will freeze well. If lots and lots of people bring food, yours could get wasted if it doesn’t freeze easily. Sloppy joes, casseroles, breads or cookies freeze well and are great to have on hand.
Take food that will make an easy breakfast for the family. Cinnamon rolls, egg casseroles and quick breads are perfect because they are easy for the family to eat in the mornings…yet they also freeze well if they aren’t needed yet.
Drinks such as bottles of water or juice are very nice for the family to have on hand also.
When my mom died a few years ago, someone showed up to the house with a big package of toilet paper. I kind of cracked up….as I would never thought of that. But, wow was I ever glad they had brought it! With many, many people coming and going for several days…we went through a lot of toilet paper…and certainly none of us would have felt up for a Wal-mart run.
Other non-food items that are helpful: paper plates, napkins, paper towels…plastic containers, food labels and baggies for freezing leftovers…kleenexes (both boxes, and purse sized pouches).
Also, postage stamps and blank thank you cards are needed as the family will need to send many thank you notes out after the funeral.
Most likely there will be children who are also grieving, and/or hanging around a bunch of adults who are distracted and distraught. Consider taking some fun snack foods that kids would consider a treat, cereal, granola bars, crackers, popcycles or juice boxes. You might also take some inexpensive quiet items like new books, puzzles, coloring books, or even a new DVD for the kids to enjoy.
I hope these lists were helpful, but remember…you don’t have to take anything. Just praying for the family and being there is enough.
Please feel free to add to these lists as you leave a comment. If you’ve ever been through the loss of a loved one, you know how helpful it is to be surrounded by those who care.
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