Let’s be honest here, death sucks. Death is hard and basically no one wants to talk about it. Truth be told, death is the one thing that happens to everyone, but no one is ever prepared for. After my mom died, I had my first real deep dive with death, and all it encompasses. Ultimately, I learned a few things that hopefully will help you, and I’m glad to finally be able to share it with everyone.
One thing I’ll never understand about the things people send when someone dies is… flowers. Now I appreciate that flowers are beautiful lalala, but in reality, flowers not only have to be cared for, they also DIE! Let’s talk about what is painful when grieving, and that’s watching another thing you cared for die. I mean really. Having to worry about anything but yourself when dealing with loss is hard enough. So I’m the odd one here saying please don’t send someone flowers, just don’t… if you need, maybe a card with flowers on it will suffice instead.
Gifts in general are a tough one. All people in the midst of grief heal differently and have different needs. So maybe one person really loved a wind chime, but for me, the constant sound would be a painful reminder that I just wasn’t ready for. Something that may have worked wonders for you, may cause more pain to the person actually in pain, so let me be the one to gently remind you of this.
Now that I’ve gone on and on about what not to do, let’s discuss what you actually should do when someone loses someone they love. The first and most important thing anyone grieving ever needs, is support. They really need YOU! But, support can come in many different forms. For example, greeting cards with handwritten notes, food, or gentle reminders that you’re thinking of them or the person that died. Support may mean helping the family with their kids, so they can have a break (if you’re close enough with them already that is), or sending a gift card for meal or grocery delivery. It also may mean providing a listening ear or a physical gift if that’s what your love language is.
If you’ve read my writing before, you’d know I have an affinity for handwriting, especially my moms. So when my mom died, I had her handwriting from cards made into different pieces of jewelry for me, and my kids and it ultimately started the journey for my healing. Having her handwriting on the bracelet I made brought me a sense of peace, so much so, I tattooed her handwriting on my arm. Etsy has so many different options for this, but an Etsy gift card and a link for some options, could definitely be a wonderful option for some people. Just as a reminder, If sending a gift, please keep in mind gifts are usually for the giver, not the receiver.
With that said, don’t be afraid to talk to the person about the person who died. For me, talking about my mom was healing for me. Hearing stories from her past, seeing photos I had never seen, and hearing memories I had forgotten, were such a beautiful thing for me in the midst of my pain. Also, for me, reliving the experience of her death and talking through it was what I needed, but may not be for everyone. What you can do is tell the person you are there for them, tell them what you loved about their loved one and tell them you have a space for them if they ever want to talk about it. Tell them you are happy to just listen if that’s what you need. But ultimately allowing them that safe space is the best gift you could ever give.
What I strongly want to express to the people reading this is to please continue giving the support, even after a few weeks. There is no time limit for grief and what often happens is that people are swarmed with support in the first few weeks, and then all of a sudden it stops. No more contact. It goes from constant support and then never hearing a word from them again. Ouch, right? I know it’s not intended, but it happens. That leaves the person who already had such a loss, left without support, and wondering why no one cared enough to stay. I understand that life goes on for all of us, but it was painful for me to also realize who “actually” cares and who doesn’t during the hardest time of my life.
Ultimately, there is no perfect thing, no perfect gift, and no perfect saying. What there is is love, constant support and let’s be honest, you can’t go wrong with a pair of cozy socks. Most people, like me, don’t understand grief and loss until they are smacked in the face with it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, or say the wrong thing. What they need is you for the long haul, not all the stuff. I promise you, your presence will genuinely be enough (even if from afar). So hugs to you and the fact that you’re trying… that is being a true friend.
Thank you for reading 💜💜💜