Having just been through the death of a parent, I’d like to offer some advice to my friends and anyone else who wants to listen. Your condolences rocked!! I know that you often do not want to intrude on the family that is going through bereavement. Often, you don’t know what to say. Well, let me reassure you that this is probably the only time the family will welcome intrusions with their whole heart!
I thought we would not need the food that friends brought over to the house. Wrong. We ate all of it - much of it shared with visitors. Some of the most welcome items brought to the house: extra toilet paper, paper plates, plastic utensils, paper cups, bottled water, a lovely stew, platters of vegetables, fruits and cheeses, sandwiches from Panera, roasted chicken, spicy catfish, even gin and vodka! Next time someone I know is bereaving, I am taking them food.
I cannot tell you how much the sympathy cards mean to the family. If you are sending a memorial contribution to a charity, please tell the family about it in a card. Cards are treasured. The cards we received touched my mother and the family every day. They reminded us that there is life after death, that we are not alone, and that we are loved.
And the flowers - even if the family says it does not want flowers at the chapel - they were the first things checked at the memorial service and the cards on them were the first things that evoked love and emotion at the funeral. Go ahead and send flowers if you can afford them. Visually, the flowers at the chapel are the best thing for showing that the lost loved one was loved, which comforts the living immeasurably.
If you don’t send a card, please do send sympathy via one of our more modern methods of communication. E-mail, Facebook, or even a text message means a lot. The family needs the contact now at this time, more than ever. (If you are close and they don’t hear from you, this will cause them pain, stress, and sorrow. Aren’t they already getting enough of that? So suck up your discomfort, and get in touch.)
My stepfather was a very organized man while he was alive. And he had his affairs in order. I think we should all follow in his footsteps on how to make it easy on our loved ones after we depart. It is much easier to execute final wishes if the final wishes are known. Make a list of who you want contacted, what you did in your life, where you want to be buried, life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement funds and regular bills. Your account names and passwords will be needed, so add them to a safe deposit box or household safe. Have an easy to find will, and make sure your beneficiary is already a co-owner on your important property. All this will make your loved ones love you all the more dearly.
Thank you, friends, for all the great condolences! Never second guess yourself again when a friend is grieving. Condolences rock! I love you all!