While the new year brings all the optimism and hope of a fresh start, it rings differently for people who are grieving the loss of a loved one. How we grieve differs dramatically based on circumstances, but we share a desire for our loved ones to be remembered. This yearning may feel more acute during special holidays or milestone anniversaries of birth or death, prompting friends or families to look for ways to offer additional support. In this blog post we share support recommendations and memorial gift ideas for bereaved friends and relatives.
Is someone you love grieving? Harvard Medical School offers the following advice for supporting bereaved friends and family members:
- Name names. Don’t be afraid to mention the deceased. It’s terrible to feel that someone you love must forever be expunged from memory and conversation. Saying how much you’ll miss the person is much better than the perfunctory, “I’m sorry for your loss.”
- Offer hope. People who have gone through grieving often remember that it is the person who offered reassuring hope, the certainty that things will get better, who helped them make the passage from pain to a renewed sense of life. Be careful, though, about being too glib, as doing so may make the bereaved person feel even more isolated. Rather, say something like: “You will grieve for as long as you need to, but you are a strong person, and will find your way through this.”
- Reach out. Call to express your sympathy. Your friend or relative may need you even more after the first few weeks and months, when other people may stop calling. Check in every now and then just to say hello (you may find it helpful to put reminders on your calendar). Most bereaved people find it difficult to reach out and need others to take the initiative.
- Help out. Don’t just ask if you can “do anything.” That transfers the burden to the bereaved, and they may be reluctant to make a request. Instead, be specific when offering help. Bring dinner over, pass on information about funeral arrangements, or answer the phone. Pitch in to clean up the kitchen. Sometimes your help is most valuable in the weeks and months following the loss.
- Listen well. A sympathetic ear is a wonderful thing. A friend who listens even when the same story is told with little variation is even better. Often, people work through grief and trauma by telling their story over and over. Unless you are asked for your advice, don’t be quick to offer it.
We abridged the original list of recommendations for this post, but you can find more advice for supporting grieving friends by reading the full article, here.
Our Favorite Memorial Gifts
According to the Harvard Medical School, even small gestures can be a huge source of comfort to a person who is grieving. We love the following memorial gift ideas for a friend who is experiencing loss.
- Memorial Quilt. Ask friends and relatives to draw or write fond memories of the deceased, to be printed on squares and sewn into a quilt that wraps a grieving friend in love and support.
- Remembrance Candle. Laurelbox offers personalized candles in an array of modern, beautiful styles.
- Wildflower Seeds. This sweet Etsy shop offers and affordable and sustainable gift that can even be tucked in a sympathy card.
Given or Received a Memorial Gift?
Have you recently supported a bereaved friend? Or perhaps someone has reached out to help you during a difficult time or given you a special memorial gift. If so, we would love to hear about your experience. Contact us to share your story.
As always, thanks for reading.