Here it is! The inspired list we came up with of tangible ways in which we can offer support for our loved ones, both in times of need, and also for no particular reason other than sometimes we want to show some extra love!
This entire series grew out of two tangible acts of love from this summer when I had clients order peony prints from my collection to send to friends that needed some extra support. The thought of my artwork acting as a vessel through which love and light can be spread is my ultimate dream come true. Those two simple orders touched me in a profound way, making me want to grow in how I show up for the people in my life.
I have learned so much through the brave, profound, often heart-wrenching–but sometimes funny–dialogues I’ve had with all of you over the previous weeks. In our initial article we looked at the unifying truth that simply showing up and being a presence is the ultimate salve for grief. In the following article, we detailed specific verbal cues and prompts through which we can frame our support so that it keeps our loved ones and their needs and experiences center stage. We then explored the many ways in which we can unintentionally fail to show up effectively for others through our compilation of “What Not to Say.” Now in this concluding article, we can attempt to grow our repertoire of acts of showing up.
As I’ve mentioned, gifts are my love language and I have received offerings of love during dark times that made me feel very loved and connected. Where words often fail, thoughtful and helpful gifts, whether tangible objects or the gift of time and aide, can let our loved ones know we care.
ACTS OF SHOWING UP
- Taking care of the other people/animals in the sphere of the grieving person.
- Offering to walk their dog(s) or take them to a dog park- or even just coming over to play with them.
- Child care–offering to take kiddos to a park or hold little ones.
- Tending to their plants and/or garden.
- Delivering nutritious, delicious, home-cooked food.
- Food or gift cards to places close by that deliver.
- Gift cards for local grocery delivery or meal delivery services.
- Ask “What or How can I help, right now today…..” and be specific, “I can go to the grocery store for you today or bring you dinner tomorrow,…….”
- One of my friends asked me specifically, “can I rake your yard?” and I thought, ‘yes!’ because it was covered in leaves. She rallied six people and had it done in an afternoon. Specific and helpful. Because she was specific I could tell she really wanted to do something to help.
- A simple text message to say that you are thinking of them right now.
- Jewelry. “I got this beautiful bird necklace from a friend and now I give one whenever a friend experiences loss.”
- A handwritten card. “Cards can be unbelievably thoughtful.”
- Stuffed animal. “When my brother died in high school a friend gave me a beautiful stuffed bunny. I slept with her for years and she is still in my bedroom 20 years later.”
- Art. I am partial, of course to sending a Flower Portrait to any beauty-lover because these images never fade or die or smell. Here is a link to a Flower Portrait Collection I created for gifting.
(When in a space of suffering and/or loss we often stop caring for ourselves so these are gift ideas to encourage self-nurturing)
- favorite teas
- bubble bath soaps
- spa gift certificates
- a Spotify playlist (here is one of mine called “Just Breathe”)
- a beautiful magazine (I, among many others I know, adore Victoria Magazine)
- flowers—The International Comfort Language (There were some mixed reviews here)
- Some people felt strongly that receiving fresh flowers was a burden because inevitably they died and provided another reminder of loss.
- Some people loved any opportunity to receive fresh flowers.
- Some people said that the smell of lilies make them ill because it reminds them of funerals.
Anti-Suggestion: many people shared that “sympathy mementos”, usually with religious messages, made them feel offended and hurt. Sharing your own personal religious beliefs during a difficult time for someone often leaves a bad taste in their mouth and sours their association with that religion/area of faith.
(Here are ideas for companionship that do not force awkward conversations where you might be tempted to fill the silence with well meaning, but potential hurtful, words.)
- Walking through a garden
- Playing a card game together
- Watching a show together (everyone has been telling me to watch The Marvelous Miss Maisel!)
- Going for a walk in nature
- Visiting a bookstore or library, reading in a comfy chair.
- Watching funny YouTube videos.
- Getting a manicure and/or pedicure.
- Getting a massage.
- Getting lash extensions. (I’m a BIG fan of this one because I feel like I look lovely even when I’ve been crying and can’t be bothered to put makeup on.)
- Sitting in a public place people watching- or animal watching!
- Happy hour at a fun new restaurant or a favorite old one.
- Walk through a fancy grocery store to find something yummy.
- Going for a scenic drive.
- Attending a candlelight yoga class, especially a Yin class.
- De-cluttering a spot in their space that is causing anxiety.
- Visiting an art or natural science museum.
- Attending the symphony.
- Going someplace to watch the sunrise or sunset.
- Attending a class together that is mutually interesting- (i.e. herbalism, knitting, a new language, gardening techniques, auto repair, something at the local library or community college, etc!)
It is my greatest hope that this series of articles on “How To Help Someone You Love Who Is Grieving” has been as enjoyable and enlightening for all of you as it has been for me.
Please comment to share ANY other ideas you have! I am forever grateful for your participation and support in this wonderful community.