What can you do?
If you are the practical type firstly, don't ask "Is there is anything I can do?" You may mean it at the time – but get real, -- they aren't going to ASK!
How about: Organizing meals to be brought in? A word of warning, if you take this on, it needs to be organized properly or it can become stressful for you and the recipient.. Firstly, you need to check with your friend if they are happy to accept meals. Then agree when they would like them to start. If you are given the green light - get the word out that you are coordinating food. When people call for information agree on a date and then mail a confirmation letter giving further instructions. The letter should give some guidance on food eg alert them of any allergies or dislikes, with directions to simply leave the food in a cooler (that you have arranged) at the door at a certain time. They should be asked to use disposable, heatable containers and include a little note with any heating instructions. Often people are generous with portions, and a meal every second day can work well. Door knocking should be discouraged.
Other ways you can help include:
- Returning medical supplies.
- Taking kids to school.
- Helping with home maintenance.
- Cleaning gutters, mowing lawns, rake leaves, pulling weeds, and washing windows.
- Putting in and taking out air conditioners...
- And remember these aren't one off jobs - they are a constant worry... Try to be a constant friend and notice the little things...
Folks fade after the first 2-4 weeks. So keep sending notes. Stop by. Take food. Call and offer to stay and eat with them. Sit with them at church, and events. Go shopping, give the gift of a gardener or a housekeeper for one day.
There is no date when they "should" have gotten over their bereavement. They're taking one lonely day at a time so try not to lose patience, even if you have moved on. Talking about the deceased is good. There is nothing worse than trying to sweep the deceased's existence under the carpet. Celebrate their life and share with their loved ones what it meant to you.
Remember key dates like a loved one's birthday, Mother's Day, etc. As big dates get closer, tension rises. Talk ahead about remembering the date. The fear that no one will remember may be lonelier than the actual day. Some people choose to celebrate their loved one's birthday, rather than the day they died.