When a family walks through the loss of a loved one, it makes everyday life difficult. Often people want to help, but just aren’t sure how. Having recently walking through the loss of my father, I wanted to share this list of some ways to minister to a grieving family.
Simply offering to help when someone is grieving can sometimes add to the burden. “Let me know if you need anything” is sweet, but can often leave a grief stricken person at a loss, feeling overwhelmed or even feeling guilty that they need help. Many times, those dealing with loss aren’t even aware of their needs at first. Our family received so much love and support when my father passed away, and these are just a few tangible ways to minister to a grieving family (and/or one walking through a long term illness). Many of these things were done for us and made all the difference.
- Gift Cards – think food, groceries, gas, etc
- Stamps – one less thing for the family to have to go out and buy as they send thank yous and take care of bills
- Thank You card packs – a little thing that can make a big difference. The family wants to say thank you but often doesn’t want go out in public yet or is in a grief fog and may forget.
- Food Train – There are several options out there. Often a family friend or church member will set this up and share the link with people. Not having to think about food can be so helpful when you’re overwhelmed! Most services also include a way to send monetary donations to the family and have a section for specific dietary needs. (Some do charge for their donation services, so read carefully.)
- Clean/Pay for cleaning service – Be sure to ask, as this would need to be done when the family is gone and in a way that doesn’t intrude on their privacy.
- Take the kids – Having littles around during deep grief can be a double edged sword. They are something else to focus on but they can also prevent someone from fully letting themselves cry or be upset at risk of not being able to care for the child or scaring them. Also, chances are they’re in need of some smiles and fun! Having someone watch Logan for a little while was really life-giving for me and allowed me to really grieve and also be able to focus on helping my mom.
- Offer to take over household tasks, such as bill paying, etc. – The last thing anyone wants to do when dealing with hospital time, death, etc is manage their household or discover they missed a bill payment. We had a family member offer to take over paying the bills and managing things for a few months. It was so helpful to have that taken off my mom’s mental load.
- Drop off tissues & paper goods – Inevitably, there are more people in and out of the house than normal. Having extra paper goods (and lots of tissues) is handy. Just drop them off and leave so that the family doesn’t feel they need to invite you in.
- Set up a Go Fund Me account or benefit to cover medical costs
- Send your phone number in your condolence card – This was especially helpful in our case, as our community is very close knit and the neighborhood guys would check in with my dad. Some sent numbers in their cards in case my mom needed something, which was really sweet.
- Offer a service (plumbing, electric, yard work, etc) and check in every few months – If you know a trade, just mentioning that you’d be willing to help can take a big load off of a grieving family. It let’s them know they aren’t shouldering the load alone.
- Take care of yard work
- Send flowers and cards weeks/months/years down the road – Remind them you haven’t forgotten them. <3
I hope this list helps you reach out and love those who are grieving. It can be difficult to know what to do or say, but I can honestly say that just being there, checking in, and walking through the loss with them means the most after those initial weeks.
As the person going through the pain, you feel like the world completely stopped and it’s a bit jarring to realize that no one else’s world came to a screeching halt. The people who have comforted me the most take time to pause their lives and make sure we are doing alright. They mention my dad and talk about things they remember. They let us know that their lives are different without him too.
And, if you are one of those people who has been loving my family so well – thank you. We are forever grateful.
I’d love it if you shared this with someone. <3