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When you have a death in the family, what did people bring that helped?


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#1 Lisa in Jax

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:07 AM

My 10-year-old son is in PS. The mother of one of his classmates died yesterday after being ill for months. We don't know them well, but want to help.

Here's my question:

The school is taking any food, etc., donated to the family tomorrow. What is the best thing to send? Food? I'm assuming that they'll be inundated with foods, so would it be better to send paper plates/cups or sodas/juice?

If you've lost a loved one and had food, etc., brought to you, what items were most appreciated or which things do you wish people had brought?

Thanks,

Lisa

#2 msjones

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:10 AM

I liked frozen cookie dough or frozen muffin batter. We had lots of visitors, and it was nice to be able to just make a pot of coffee and pop something in the oven when they came by.

#3 Hillary in KS

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:10 AM

Anything that can be frozen. When families are grieving, no one's usually terribly hungry.

Afterwards, it's helpful to just be able to pull something out of the freezer and thaw it.

Use disposable containers, and write re-heating directions on top.

I try and send homemade cookies, etc., that can just be thrown in the freezer, if needed.

#4 KidsHappen

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:21 AM

I like the idea of paper products because sometimes something as simple as doing the dishes is overwhelming. Another good idea is some healthy snacks for the kids. Sometimes the kids get their appetite back before the adult are really up to cooking and most people bring meal type foods. Also healthy single serve juices would be good. Bless you for helping this family.

#5 muffinmom

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:21 AM

I think soup is a great option (with containers they can freeze in, if they want). I made soup for a couple of families who were grieving, and they were very appreciative, saying they didn't want much to eat, but soup hit the spot and was comforting. I had made an all-veggie minestrone for them. A nice veggie or veggie/beef soup would be good, too. Maybe chicken noodle.

#6 Kari C in SC

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:27 AM

When my sil died, we had so much food. We literally had to store some at the neighbors. Nobody was eating all that much. I think the best things were things that stored. Also somebody brought lots of paper products. Somebody else brought new toothbrushes and toiletries for the kids thinking that would be the least of the things on their dad's mind for awhile. Another thing that was amazing to us was that the local Papa John's brought $100 in gift certificates because my sil had always been a good customer. I would not expect an individual family to do that, but I thought about how a gift card for food would be helpful. That way when all the mass of food is gone and that poor dad has to feed his kids - he can pick something up. Honestly, anything is nice... it is just so hard.

#7 dirty ethel rackham

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:32 AM

When my mom passed away last month, meals were great, but everyone who brought one called ahead to see when was convenient. One family brought homemade soup and crusty bread for lunch and that was great. Nobody thinks about bringing lunch. A great gift was one of those edible fruit arrangements. No cutting or peeling involved, just pull and eat. We tend to forget to eat our fruits and vegetables in times of stress.

My friends offered grocery shopping and errand running (dry cleaning, returning books to the library, etc.) I just couldn't find time or energy to get these done. Cards with a personal note were very heartwarming. I am able to look over these notes when I am in need of comfort.

#8 Cadam

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:38 AM

Healthy food that was easy to fix. Soups and pasta with canned sauce, that kind of thing. You would be amazed at all of the junk food that people bring and while it is appreciated (especially with so many guests) we were so glad for the real food! Paper products were very useful as well. A big tray of sandwich stuff was really nice too. fresh fruit and snacks were nice so that we weren't just eating leftovers all the time.

Edited by Cadam, 21 January 2010 - 11:45 AM.


#9 Aubrey

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:41 AM

When my dad died, lots of people brought food to grm's house, & we were there most of the time, so that was nice, esp the paper plates, paper cups, etc. But the thing I was always most grateful for was the neighbor who brought *us* a ham. We were an hr away from grm's, where the funeral arrangements were being made, & we came home every night for about a week completely exhausted. If it hadn't been for that ham, that we could just peel pieces off & eat in a half-stupor, I don't think I would have eaten at all.

Several people brought cakes & cookies & things, & those were the easiest to eat--no prep--which was actually a problem. We'd mindlessly eat those & then feel worse. I don't think I'd take sweets, but I'm sure that's a really personal choice.

I think the healthy snack options, esp for kids, is good. I don't know what my kids ate that week, maybe that month. My mil & mom fed them, & I was so grateful.

Most of all, my dad didn't have a lot of friends & was a very reclusive person. His funeral was sparse. Every card, every flower, every bit of food & help people offered meant SO much, partly because there was so little. An uncle had died a few mos before my dad, & they had to use the biggest church in town, & it was still standing room only. Next to that, the little room at the funeral parlor that was only 1/2 filled for Dad was painful. All of that is to say, whatever you send will mean so much. Good job for doing it! :001_smile:

#10 farmmom4him

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:49 AM

Freezer meals are great.

For my friend who lost her baby unexpectedly, I bought her a book by a Christian mother who had lost three babies, and she really appreciated that it helped her know that she was NOT crazy for what was going through her mind.

So, if you can find a book to help that dad be able to "counsel" his children, that would be great. He is most likely going to be so "deep" in his own grief, that he is not going to know "how" to help his children.

#11 Danestress

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:50 AM

Dinner is great, but it was really helpful that a few people brought lunch trays with meats and cheeses and breads.

#12 happyhomemaker25

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:55 AM

Food people can graze on works great. Veggie platters, meat trays, fruit, cheese. Sandwhich fixings. The big meal stuff did not work with my papa's funeral. What worked were the sandwhiches and finger foods.
Paper goods and drinks are also a huge plus!

#13 ThatCyndiGirl

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:56 AM

There are two children's books:

Sad Isn't Bad

and

Peaches and Blue

that are good. We used them with our oldest daughter (who was 3 at the time) when her 15 year old cousin died.

Charlotte's Web and the movie My Girl deal with grief and loss as well.

I think that things that a person can use now or later are good:

Paper products

Gift cards for restaurants, Wal-Mart, grocery stores, Target, etc.


When my brother died I had lots of offers for "please let me know if you need anything", but, honestly......I didn't really know WHAT I needed. I was in such a stupor I was just unable to even say what I needed. Someone jumping up to take out trash or fill the car up with gas would have been GREAT as I just wasn't noticing those types of things til the very last moment.

#14 MamaAkins

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 11:58 AM

How about sending a basket filled with easy to grab (healthy) snack/breakfast choices? When a friend had a baby and her other children and husband came down with the flu within days of her coming home from the hospital, I dropped off a "care basket." It was filled with individually wrapped granola bars, yogurts (obviously they needed to be taken out of the basket and refrigerated upon receiving the basket), fresh fruit, individual drinks (vitamin water, etc), muffins, small packages of goldfish, etc.

#15 littlebug42

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:09 PM

How about sending a basket filled with easy to grab (healthy) snack/breakfast choices? When a friend had a baby and her other children and husband came down with the flu within days of her coming home from the hospital, I dropped off a "care basket." It was filled with individually wrapped granola bars, yogurts (obviously they needed to be taken out of the basket and refrigerated upon receiving the basket), fresh fruit, individual drinks (vitamin water, etc), muffins, small packages of goldfish, etc.


I would second this especially if there are a lot of children. I have also included microwave popcorn and other things for snack foods. I would have appreciated something like this when my Dad died as I did not have much of an appetite but needed to do something to keep my blood sugar up. Also, sandwich trays, cheese trays etc are very helpful.

#16 Harriet Vane

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:14 PM

When I was in second grade a boy in my class died from Reye's Syndrome. It was terribly hard. While he was sick in the hospital our class sent him cards and pictures. It was so sad when he died. Our teacher was truly lovely and handled it well with us. After he died the class grew some sort of seedlings and presented them to the boy's mother in the spring, ready for her garden. She was tearful and so thankful. I am tearing up remembering it.

I don't know if the mom of this child has a garden or likes plants, but it could be a nice gesture.

#17 Carol in Cal.

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:16 PM

I always try to bring something that is complete, self-contained, and doesn't have anything with it that has to be returned or tracked.

So, for instance, if I bring spaghetti, it's sauce in a canning jar (no need to return this), grated parmesan in a jelly jar (ditto), two bags of salad, a baby food jar of salad dressing, and a package of noodles that is just the right size for the amount of sauce. I know that this does not make for an elegant presentation, but it's quite obvious that I don't expect anything back, and that is a psychic relief, I think.

For grazing, baggies of cut-up veggies, maybe blocks of two good cheeses, and dip made with plain yogurt that is actually delivered in the yogurt container (but labelled as veggie dip) is a good combo to just stick in the fridge or right onto the table. Fridge room is often at a premium, though, so avoid the superperishable stuff like mache or delicate little baby greens.

Just calling up and saying you're having some pizza delivered would be a nice gesture. Especially a month after the funeral, when everyone has kind of stopped.

#18 EarleneW

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:30 PM

Paper products and drinks are helpful. Gift cards are always good for later when the people go away and dad and kids are alone again.

#19 torikei

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:38 PM

Fruits,veggies or any other type of healthy snack. Paper products were good--especially toilet paper, paper towels, etc. Breakfast items would have been very helpful. Most people forget how hard it is to get in a routine afterward. For us, frozen meals for later would have been wonderful. We were in such a daze for so long that simple everyday tasks were overwhelming. A good hot meal would have really helped some days. Things I would avoid bringing--anything with sugar and lunch meat.

I have to add that it really is the thought that counts. One old widower brought us lunch meat and snickers--he was an older gentleman who had lost his wife. I thought his gesture was very thoughtful and touching. It really did help me to know how much everyone loved my brother.

Tori

#20 RanchGirl

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:41 PM

so many good ideas here. Also...


  • simple (blank) notecards with envelopes since they will likely have a lot of thank yous to write, and a nice pen
  • a blank journal? Some people deal with emotions best by journaling.
  • not something you can send along with the school, but if you know the family well you could stop by and pick up their dress shoes to take them to be polished (and make sure you return them in time for the funeral of course!), make sure the kids' dress clothes fit, etc. My friend was running like crazy to get the kids shoes and pants and belts at the last minute before her MIL's funeral. I called to offer to help shop but she was already out running errands by the time I called. I should have just shown up and said what do you need and what sizes, I'm on my way out now.


#21 Ottakee

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:45 PM

Paper products are good--esp. TP and kleenex--stuff they could use even months from now.

If they are in an area where they can get delivery, how about gift certificates for pizza, subs, or other food? Even if you give them these in a few weeks, they will be much appreciated.

At our church we had 3 parents die within just a few months of each other, all leaving children behind.

I know that one dad really appreciated a few ladies that took his 2nd grade daughter under their wing and helped to get her hair cut, later shop for clothes, etc.

Another option, depending on finances, would be for a group of you to go in together on a house cleaning service every other week or so for several months.

Again, depending on the family's financial situation, gas cards, gift cards to the grocery store, etc. might be very welcome in the weeks and months to come. I am sure that dad will be missing quite a bit of work and even if there is life insurance/social security, etc. that can all take time to get set.

#22 happyhomemaker25

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 12:48 PM

Our preacher tells of when his wife died. They still had three preteen boys at home. He said the ladies of the church kept them fed for that whole first year. He said it took a huge burden off of him as he was trying to cope with her death and deal with these three young men.

#23 scrapbookbuzz

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 01:28 PM

NO food! There will be PLENTY! Paper plates and/or napkins/cups is probably a very good idea. OR just send a card and let them know you're there for them and willing to help. Also list ways (your talents) that you are willing to help. They may very well need help but not know what to ask for. Your listed ways will help them.

May God bless you abundantly for your thoughtfulness!

#24 Margaret in CO

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 01:32 PM

It's a little thing, but Puffs with Lotion are great. Your face gets so raw from crying that they are nice. Bring them a basket to put all the cards in, so they don't get scattered all over the house. Tuck in some packages of thank you notes and some pens. If you have a good picture or two, print them, put them in a frame and leave on the kitchen counter. It gives a focus. Take pictures of the flower arrangements at the service and write down who sent what. Flowers get pitched and then they don't know who sent which arrangement. Help with getting funeral clothes for the children. It was a HUGE help to me when a friend showed up with white shirt, tie, dark socks and shoes for my ds--not clothes that he keeps around! Show up and clean their bathrooms--one of the nicest things a friend did for me. And don't forget to write a note a month later, 2 months later, etc. The 6 month anniversary is a BIGGIE!

#25 Pippen

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:12 PM

Just calling up and saying you're having some pizza delivered would be a nice gesture. Especially a month after the funeral, when everyone has kind of stopped.


I really like this idea, either by making arrangements later or giving the family gift cards to use when it's best for them. Once I was receiving meals from church families after a baby someone brought us a carry out pizza. We'd been getting casseroles, pot roasts, soups, etc that I really appreciated but my kids were absolutely thrilled to get pizza.

#26 gingersmom

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:14 PM

When my children's father died the school arranged for a local Italian restaurant to send over food. It was the best thing ever.

Cooking is the last thing on your mind and as long as it can go in the freezer it is welcome.

Gift card to a restaurant are also good.

#27 Pippen

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:17 PM

When my brother died I had lots of offers for "please let me know if you need anything", but, honestly......I didn't really know WHAT I needed. I was in such a stupor I was just unable to even say what I needed. Someone jumping up to take out trash or fill the car up with gas would have been GREAT as I just wasn't noticing those types of things til the very last moment.


When our family was going through a period when I couldn't leave the house often I had a friend who came once a week to run errands for me. I could manage the grocery shopping but all of those little out of the way errands like dropping off library books, returning video rentals, etc were difficult to get to so it was very helpful.

#28 asta

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:18 PM

I was going to say, but someone beat me to it - house cleaning.

No one ever thinks about it, but I'll tell you - it is the one thing I remember, 31 years later.


a

#29 G5052

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 02:26 PM

When my DH's parents died, we had a huge amount of food, and thankfully were able to freeze some of it for later when we were trying to deal with legal issues and the house. About three days after the funeral his youngest brother's law firm sent a very nice cold cut tray, a variety of rolls, and some fruit salad/potato salad. I thought that was nice too because lunch was covered for several days. Friends of another of his brothers sent a maid service gift certificate which I thought was really nice -- we had her really clean the bathrooms and kitchen which were an utter disaster with so many people around and in-and-out. Someone else came by and did all the yard work one day.

Of late in my area, some churches/organizations are sending generous restaurant gift cards for places that are known for good take-out.

The bottom line is that you show that you care for the grieving family. For various reasons that I won't related here, almost nothing was done locally after my Dad died in April and it was like a slap in the face. I was going crazy trying to feed everyone, keep my mom's house decent for visitors, deal with her grief/dementia, and work on estate issues while my own husband and children were receiving all kinds of food and help while I was many states away!

#30 FeFe

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 03:41 PM

Toilet paper - you have so many people in and out of your house and it's something that isn't thought about until it's all gone.

#31 BridgeTea

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 04:13 PM

Can of coffee
jar of creamer
gallon jug of orange juice
stack of styrofoam cups
paper plates
toilet paper

All of these helped our family because of all the visitors

#32 QueenCath

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 04:30 PM

Easy breakfast food, quick snacks, beverages, paper products. Plenty of other people will drop off lunch/dinner items.

#33 Oak Knoll Mom

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:06 PM

My uncle died this past weekend and some of the more unique things people brought were a large bag of assorted breath mints and several large coolers of ice.

Also, one person made a huge breakfast casserole for us the day of the funeral. It was really nice to have a good breakfast in our stomachs on such a long and stressful day.

And I second the idea of disposable dishes. Those large foil pans are great for casseroles--easy to pop in the freezer for a later date.

#34 Sahamamama

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:18 PM

  • Anyone who brings food (as in meals) could be sure to put it in disposable containers, so the family will not have to worry about returning dishes/casseroles.
  • Paper products are a great asset, it relieves the family of having to wash up after meals. It helps if the plates and napkins are pretty, too! (Just a thought).
  • If there are any younger children, a small remembrance for them might be tucked into the food basket -- a stuffed animal, something snuggly.
  • If you don't feel comfortable making and delivering a meal, healthy snack foods might be appreciated -- fruit/nut bars, dried fruit, crackers, cookies, graham crackers, and breath mints (for the funeral).
  • Also, you could tuck in those little packets of tissues. The family members will need these for a long time... :grouphug:
One final thought. Your son is probably old enough to learn what to say and not say to his classmate. If you agree with this, then you might discuss with him that he probably should not say, "I know just how you feel." Ask why or why not? Does he really know? Then talk about saying something kind and tenderhearted. "I am so sorry" might be just the right thing to say. HTH.

#35 SeekingSimplicity

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:34 PM

If you're able to donate your time, see if they need help watching children, cleaning their house, or someone to house sit while they take care of funeral arrangements.
I don't know what their financial situation is, but some times donations are more helpful than bringing things.

#36 Lisa in Jax

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 05:48 PM

The family barely knows us, b/c we knew Angela (the mom), but only a bit. So, I don't think it's appropriate for me to go to their house. When I was grieving my father's death, I didn't have the energy to deal with strangers, and I imagine they'll feel the same.

I think I'll send paper products and a restaurant gift card through the school. It seems to make the most sense, b/c we don't know them well enough to know their food preferences, etc.

Sahamamama, your advice is right on. I've already talked to my son about this. He was adopted after his bio mom died, so he knows how she feels (though he was much younger). In addition, I remember VERY clearly what things people said that helped (and which things hey said that stung) when my dad died -- though I was an adult when he died.

I've asked him to be kind, to make an effort to talk to her every day, and to say, "I'm sorry about your mom" if he's not sure what to say. I've also told him not to pester her if she's crying -- and to tell others to leave her alone if they start the "what's wrong?" questions when she doesn't want to talk. He knows not to tell her that "it'll be all right" or other platitudes. I told him that those things are for the adults in her life to help with, and that "fixing" her feelings isn't his job. His job is to be kind, and to allow her to be sad or mad or whatever.

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions!!

Lisa

#37 mom4him

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:08 PM

One of the things that I have done and had many comments come back on is a nice hearty soup. I generally make my 8 qt crock full and take it. The comment is always, it was so nice to be able to go and get a bowl when anyone wanted one. Sit down meals don't normally happen a lot at these times.

#38 littlebug42

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:11 PM

NO food! There will be PLENTY! Paper plates and/or napkins/cups is probably a very good idea. OR just send a card and let them know you're there for them and willing to help. Also list ways (your talents) that you are willing to help. They may very well need help but not know what to ask for. Your listed ways will help them.

May God bless you abundantly for your thoughtfulness!


Not necessarily true. When my Dad died in the fall, no one brought us any food so I still had to figure out how to feed my kids every night while dealing with my grief. I would not assume that all of those needs would be met.

#39 lasulliva

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:23 PM

I know the OP already decided what to do, but I'm just going to echo going for a lunch or breakfast item. I remember sandwich trays being nice.

I still remember looking in the fridge one morning a day or so after my dad died. We must've had 5 gallons of orange juice, various assorted milk cartons, and tons of casseroles - but nothing for breakfast. :001_huh:

#40 jujsky

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Posted 21 January 2010 - 06:35 PM

My 10-year-old son is in PS. The mother of one of his classmates died yesterday after being ill for months. We don't know them well, but want to help.

Here's my question:

The school is taking any food, etc., donated to the family tomorrow. What is the best thing to send? Food? I'm assuming that they'll be inundated with foods, so would it be better to send paper plates/cups or sodas/juice?

If you've lost a loved one and had food, etc., brought to you, what items were most appreciated or which things do you wish people had brought?

Thanks,

Lisa


What I appreciated most were frozen meals. One of my friends made me lasagna and something else in disposable/reusable plastic containers so I didn't have to worry about getting them back to her. They were much-appreciated on a couple of nights AFTER the funeral had passed. In my case I was so busy prior to the funeral preparing everything, running around like crazy, that it wasn't until after the funeral was over & I was back home in my routine that everything hit me and I had the time to mourn. I don't think my experience was that unusual. Having prepared food I could eat after the fact really helped.

#41 gsanmb

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 09:56 AM

I'm not sure if this is possible, but our community arranges for a rotation of meals for time between 1 week-1 month and the person who coordinates makes sure that the family is not getting 7 lasagnas every week. Ditto on the freezable/disposible containers, etc.

Also, when a family very close to us lost their son last year, one other thing that was provided for them was a cleaning service gift certificate, once a week for a month. This is a 'chip-in' kind of gift but the mom said it really relieved some stress for her knowing it was taken care of (it could also be done by volunteers offeringto go to the house, but some people would rather have a professional there than random visitors cleaning their bathrooms, kwim?).

So sorry for the loss, what a tragedy. May G-d comfort all the mourners.

#42 birchbark

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Posted 22 January 2010 - 10:21 AM

My dad died this past year. What we appreciated most was soup and backrubs. One friend gave us all terrific rubs after being on our feet all evening for the visitation.

It's also nice to have flowers or cards a couple months later when people have moved on past your tragedy and your grief is becoming more real and less numbing.


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