Firstly, I apologize for not posting as much lately. On top of school keeping me busy these past few weeks, there was a recent death in the family. Even though it wasn't in my actual immediate family, I still considered Ozzy very much a part of my family since I have known her and her family for ten+ years, when I had met my best friend Athena.
I'm happy I was lucky enough to grow up as a family member in their household, and have been shown much love and support in a number of ways. I'm glad I am able to reciprocate the love they've shown me throughout this difficult time. Simply being there for them, as they need family at this time more than ever.
Something that I've done for many of my close friends is prepare a sort of care package to show that I'm thinking of them, or a thoughtfully written homemade card. I've always felt that it's these small acts of kindness that are most meaningful and special. For this particular situation, I included the following in Athena's care basket:
a helpful read
a humorous read
something she enjoys doing
her favorite candy
a thoughtful, handwritten note
If you know anyone going through a crisis such as this..
I would recommend the book, All My Friends Are Dead, to anyone who is looking for a lighter gift (if you'd like to check out the inside of the book, simply click on the picture of it above). She really, really enjoyed it. On a post-it note on the inside I wrote "Hey, at least you're better off than these guys!" And she loved it, it actually made her crack a smile and laugh while reading through.
What NOT to do: while reading some passages from the other book I bought her, I read some things of what NOT to do when trying to console a person who has lost a family member. It said not to say "let me know if you need anything at all." While this isn't such an awful thing to say, it's also not as great to say as it may seem. It doesn't offer much help to the person grieving since they won't have the energy to or feel like calling and asking for help from anyone at that point. Avoid pithy insights, otherworldly explanations for why this happened, or things that try to minimize sad feelings such as: "she is in a better place now," or "you should pick up a hobby to keep your mind of this," or "she wouldn't want you to be sad like this," etc. Try not to compare their situation to your own, it is worse and it seems that you are trying to make this about yourself and your situation when all they want to do is talk about/think about theirs.
What should you do: Be honest and sincere; say what you really feel, like: "This is terrible! You must be heartbroken," often it's the small expressions of sympathy that comfort the most. Also, it's nice to say how you'd like to help and follow through, such as asking if you may stop by for a visit or bring flowers or whatever else you might think will help. However, if they are not up for it at that time, respect their wishes and try again at a later date. Another tip was to not avoid the subject of death all together, it just makes things awkward since you know that is all that's on their mind. Instead, bring it up by asking how they are feeling and allow them to speak their mind, this is actually helping them cope with it better and shows you care.
If you have recently lost a loved one, I hope this post at least helps in some small way.