10 Ways to Help a Grieving Loved One

In just over three years, I lost four of my closest family members. I learned that one of the hardest things about losing someone is the hollow place they leave in our lives, our hearts, and our arms. Through the stress and strain of planning final arrangements and settling estates, I reached for something to hold onto - a comfort in my time of need. Using the sewing skills my grandmother taught me, I was able to turn my mother’s nursing cape into a memory bear and my grandfather’s shirt into a memory pillow. It didn’t bring them back, but it did bring me comfort.  Being able to hold something a loved one once wore helps keep their memory near. Today I am honored to be able to comfort other families though their time of grief with Kidderbug Kreations.

During those stress filled days - and weeks - and months - I learned so much more than I ever wanted to know: how to plan a funeral, how to be a personal representative for an estate, how to to go through the motions of living when it took every ounce of strength I had to just get out of bed and breathe each day. I deeply appreciated the offers of help during those days, but my brain was having enough trouble trying to just remember how to breathe; figuring out how someone could help was just too much effort. Because of those experiences, I came up with a list of 10 ways you can help someone in a meaningful way that will be truly appreciated.

  1. Be specific about your offer to help. “I am free this weekend and would love to take the kids to the park so you can have some alone time. I’ll call you on Thursday.”

  2. Ask what type of laundry detergent, shampoo, and other essentials they use and drop off some of these necessities. Getting to the store can be overwhelming.

  3. Suggest they keep clothing for a while if they have any desire to have quilts, pillows, or bears made from them. (Kidderbug Kreations would be honored to help with this)

  4. After the initial “shock” wears off and they are getting used to a new normal, people have moved on and the bereaved are still grieving and can still use help. Ask them how they are doing several months later and be prepared to spend time listening to the real answer.

  5. Talk about the person that has died. Use his/her name. You won’t make their loved ones sad by talking about the deceased. They will be thinking of the person and happy someone else is as well.

  6. Invite them over for the holidays if you are able to do so.

  7. “When you’ve decided what you want to do with your loved ones clothes and possessions, I’ll help you sort through it all. And if you need to cry, I’ll bring the tissues.”

  8. Make reminders to call/visit on special days (birthdays, holidays, anniversaries). This was greatly appreciated. It was nice to know others remembered.

  9. Take meals a couple weeks after the death. Often, you get so much food at first and then people go on about their lives and it seems they’ve forgotten about you and your loved one. It’s nice to still have some help later.

  10. Just sit with them and listen. You don’t need to offer suggestions or have answers. Just sit and listen.

Please do not stay away or ignore the loss. Bring up the subject and be prepared for tears. Nothing you say will ever make the bereaved sadder than the reality of losing a family member. They need your loving support. Remember, it is usually the simple things you say or do that mean so much.

Anne from Kidderbug Kreations