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How To Respond When Someone Dies

My husband’s mother recently died and, although they were not close, it had an impact on him.

Sadness crept in and a sense of wondering what to do. We had gone to visit her in another state a month earlier as she had started hospice and we knew the end was near.

People who know my husband know he is a quiet and reserved person, so most chose to send him a text and he responded to each one.

But what else can people do when they aren’t sure exactly how to respond when someone dies?

I have five very simple suggestions:

  1. Call them. Instead of texting, which seems to be more common these days, people need to hear the voice of others saying “we heard your mother died, how are you doing?” Allow the person to talk if they have something to say. You can also share a memory of the person if you have one ~ but, if you don’t have a memory to share, it’s okay to have the conversation be short. It’s not about length of time on the phone but more about checking in to let them know you care and are aware of the situation.
  2. Send flowers. I would wait a couple days or even a week or two to send flowers. This shows you have not forgotten that they are going through a time of grieving. We received the bouquet below and it lasted almost two weeks and served as a reminder that we were thought of.
Sympathy Flowers

3. Send a card. My husband received many of his cards 1-2 weeks after his mother died and they are still on display. Again, a reminder that someone thought of him and cared to send a message.

Sympathy Cards

4. Deliver food or have it delivered. I know this sounds strange to some, but we had a cousin send us a delivery from a company called Wolferman’s which included breakfast muffins and a frozen quiche. Every time we have breakfast we think of the thoughtfulness of that cousin.

5. A year later ~ do one of the above. Although the person has been dead for a year the anniversary of a person’s death is fresh in a person’s mind. I have a friend who, 10 years after his wife has died, still grieves for her so I call him on that day and we share memories of her.

Some feel awkward to call or send something, but small kindnesses really help a person who is grieving.

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