Supporting the Bereaved
When death touches the family of someone we love, we often ask the question, “Is there anything I can do?” We mean it sincerely, but sometimes we simply don't know what to do; the person we want to help may be hesitant to ask for anything specific or may simply not be able to identify the help they need at this time.
The following information is designed to give you practical suggestions which will enable you to be of significant help to your bereaved friend.
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Remember, people often find it difficult to ask for help. It is vitally important to volunteer. Here are a number of suggestions. Choose only the tasks you know you can do or that are appropriate to your relationship.
During the first few days or at funeral time...
Be a house sitter when the family is away from the home making funeral arrangements, attending the visitation or being present at the funeral or memorial service.
If the death occurs out of town and your friend is leaving for the funeral, offer to pick up their mail and newspaper, water plants and watch the house.
Arrange for the care of their pets.
Answer the telephone. Make a list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of people who call, stop at the house or offer to help. Take accurate messages and give brief, correct information.
Telephone relatives and friends, notifying them of the death and the funeral arrangements.
Clean the house and/or yard in preparation for people coming for the funeral.
If needed, do the laundry.
Keep a written record of food brought to the house including names, addresses, telephone numbers, the type of food they brought and a description of the container…or put a piece of masking tape on the outside bottom of the dish and print the donor’s name on it.