What a Family Really Needs at a Time of Loss

When someone dies, most people want to find a meaningful way to reach out. Yet we often feel helpless in the face of death and struggle to find something we can do to make things better. It can be difficult to know what to do or say. Sometimes, thinking practically can reveal some very simple ways to make a difference.

  • Grieving families often need meals. Perhaps you could bring a casserole or organize a larger effort. There are many apps and online services designed to help coordinate meal delivery, and if you know many friends of the grieving family, you could set them up with meals for weeks.
  • Other people need help running errands. Offer to pick up some groceries or drop off the dry cleaning. Think about all the things that may be left undone as the family focuses on funeral arrangements, then find ways to fill in the gaps.
  • Families may need childcare. You could take the kids out for ice cream or offer to stay with them while the parents attend to important business. Sometimes dogs need to be walked or even taken out of the house for a few days until normal routines resume. Think about the family structure and see if there’s a way to lend a hand.

Sometimes, the simplest things are the most helpful. A bereaved family might not think about the strain a house full of well-wishers and mourners will put on their basic household supplies. You might feel silly bringing a pound of coffee or a variety of paper products, but those might be the very things the family didn’t even realize they needed. By bringing something practical and necessary, you’ve given a family member the space to do something really important.

Ultimately, it comes down to the simple fact that it is important to do something. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do something to help and your intent will be understood.

At Chapel of the Chimes Oakland, we’ve been helping families navigate grief since 1909. We can help you plan a meaningful, life-honoring service for your loved one or help you find ways to express your condolences to someone who has suffered a loss. Call us at (510) 379-5200 to learn about all the ways we can help you in this difficult time.

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