Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Monday, October 18, 2004

When other people grieve

Print this out and carry it with you.
  • Call and email and send notes in the mail. Don’t expect a reply.
  • Don’t come by without comfort food and a pocket full of Kleenex.
  • Offer to do laundry or clean the bathroom or wash dishes or mow the lawn or buy groceries. Do this daily until someone takes you up on this offer.
  • If the bereaved is out of town and you have a key, stop by to bring in the mail, scratch the cats, and stock the freezer. Check the answering machine and call with important messages. Throw out the junk mail. If you don’t have a key, just check on the outdoor plants and mow or shovel.
  • Depending on the family size and circumstances, be willing to help with the mundane funeral planning tasks like proofing the obituary and choosing a casket. No one wants to go to the funeral home alone.
  • Offer to drive the bereaved on their errands.
  • Everyone has been to a funeral. What you know of grief is nothing like the person in front of you. Remember this. Don’t talk about yourself.
  • Know that you may be the only person the bereaved will see that day. Listen to them. Don’t change the subject, even if it’s about death.


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