Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes that there is a time to every purpose under heaven. Probably the one we like the least is "a time to mourn". Ty's ex-girlfriend, Breanna, lost her father yesterday. His name was Mike and he battled cancer for 3 years. Breanna stopped by the house the other night and even though I had been through a similar thing a few years ago, it was hard to know what to say to her. Really, what words can bring you comfort?
I made some food today to take to the family, and I made a floral wreath to drop by the funeral home. While I was busy doing these things, I thought long and hard about the "right" things to say and do in situations like these. Most of us have been through some sort of loss, so this should be easy, right? WRONG! I have had many people ask me "what's a good thing to say after a death?" I feel so stupid when I say "I have no idea". I mean, yeah, I can give you some things that brought me comfort, but really each situation is different and all people are so different, so what one finds comfort in, another might find offensive.
I thought I'd write some of the things that were good FOR ME to hear when Kevin died, and some things that were totally offensive FOR ME. Again, every situation and every person is different. But typing this out may even help me to remember and be more supportive of others.
First, the things I found offensive were:
1) God has His reasons (this may be true, but not something one wants to hear)
2)Things will never be the same again for you (well, duh!)
3) We would have stopped by sooner, but we just did not know what to say (well, why are you here now? Remember, it's not about YOU, it's about THEM AND THEIR GRIEF).
4) Time heals all wounds (that's something we must find out for ourselves, and time does not "heal" it makes it "bearable").
Some things I personally found helpful:
1) cards (they are non-intrusive and show support)
2) emails (again, non-instrusive)
3) look in the eye and sincerely say "we are praying for you"
4) meals dropped off - (don't forget paper plates, cups, and disposable silverware - who wants to do dishes now?)
5) filling needs that you can obviously see need done - mowing grass, weeding flowers, plowing snow. It may be best to do it when the person is not at home so they don't feel guilty about it. I can't tell you how stressful it was to come home after work, full of grief that your loved won't be there, just to see the grass needs mowed, or that the driveway is non-drivable due to snow. Many times, an anonymous friend would have it plowed or the grass mowed for me. Sometimes I knew who did it, other times, I just guessed. But God bless them!
6) The weeks following are worse than the days following the death - don't forget the family just because the funeral is over. They need you now more than ever.
7) If you want to invite them over, don't ask - insist: Say something like "dinner's at 6 and we have a plate set for you", or say "I'm dropping dinner by for you at 5, so don't fix yourself anything". If you ask if they want you to do it, chances are, they'll say "oh, that's not necessary".
8) Say something nice you remember about the loved one. I found out a lot about Kevin that I did not know because his co-workers told me stuff he had done at work for them or helped them some way. It brought comfort to me to know he did good things for others.
I hope this helps you next time there is a funeral to attend. These were just some of the things I remember (both good and bad) from my experience. I had a lot of good people who gave me and my boys support and love - thank God for them - you all know who you are.
I pray the Foth family will get through this terrible time.