The most commonly heard phrase (aside from the “I’m sorry for your loss” that makes you want to choke people) when someone passes away is “Let me know if you need anything.”
Once that phrase has been uttered, we, as the concerned party, have done our part. Maybe we’ve thrown in a “I’m praying for you” for decoration. We’ve shown ourselves to be supportive, and caring, and we can now move forward.
The family never reaches out, and we assume that once the services end, everything goes right back to normal.
The truth is, more often than not, people don’t know what they need. They are buried in what I like to call “the fog”. Everything seems surreal, and there isn’t a way to determine what to do next, because this is all uncharted territory.
People normally utter this phrase because they don’t know what else to say or do. I’m here to help.
Here are 6 things you can do instead of saying “Let me know if you need anything.”
- If you pay them a visit, do so with purpose. Mow their lawn, wash their dishes. Fold their laundry. Walk the dog. Drop off groceries. Chances are, they aren’t completing regular household chores. Often times, it feels like they have to entertain you, and put on a brave face. Show love through action. This helps.
- Do they have kids? Offer to babysit, even if it’s to watch a movie with the kids for a few hours while they have some quiet time.
- Do you live too far away? Call them. Let them know you’re thinking of them, and don’t expect anything in return. Don’t even expect them to answer the phone. Seeing that missed call is more than enough for them to know you care.
- Call the people they don’t want to talk to. Are there accounts that need to be closed? Subscriptions that need to be cancelled? People who need to be notified? Oftentimes, the calls won’t stop rolling in, and if you’re someone who excels in fielding that kind of chaos, volunteer your time.
- Make them laugh. Losing someone is not only incredibly hard, but it’s draining to field all of the condolences and expressions of sympathy. Saw a hilarious meme of a kitten wearing a raincoat? Send it. New Netflix comedy special? Forward the link. Laughter is truly the best medicine, and it provides a much needed relief.
- Listen. We often feel the need to respond or offer advice when people open up to us. Grief stirs up a lot of emotions. Whether it’s anger, sadness, relief, or fear of what comes next, sometimes the best thing to do is to stay silent, and let them vent.
Hopefully, this was helpful, and the next time you find yourself in a position to support someone who is dealing with a loss, don’t hesitate.