Thursday, September 22, 2011

What to say when there is nothing to say

Recently we came across a website that we immediately bookmarked. There are just some sites that you can tell right away “this site is going to be an invaluable resource!” and Sympathy solutions is one of those sites. 

We asked for (and received) permission to share one of their articles with all of you, because it is really so helpful! After reading this article please take some time to visit the sympathy solutions website. There are a lot of great resources offered there including articles, gift ideas and more! <3 Gwen and Vi

What to say when there is nothing to say”
Offering words of sympathy is one of the most difficult things we face in this life. The fear of saying the wrong thing can leave a loss for words

We know that nothing we say or do can take away the pain. 

We know that grief cannot be fixed with a gift or flowers. 

We can't imagine what they are going through.

We may want to avoid the whole depressing situation altogether.

Did you know that most bereavement forums have a section devoted to venting about the rude and insensitive things people have said?

Did you know that many grieving people feel isolated from their friends and family?

 Did you know that many of the most hurtful remarks actually come from the nicest people?

Here's the amazing thing I've figure out. The simple things we do to express sympathy actually mean the most. It's when we start to make it complicated by trying to fix things or provide explanations that we get into trouble. That's about when our foot is heading for our mouths.

Sometimes it's the religious crowd (myself included) that really has an issue with this. We think that when something awful happens we should provide a reason why. We value having the right answer over empathy.

That's this one:
"God works all things out for good."

If you didn't know that this comment is not really helpful to someone mourning, now you do!
Simple sympathy is all about doing the little things that really make a difference to the grieving.

No advice
No solutions
No easy answers

A listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, a comforting card, a phone call, a song, a poem, a thoughtful gift, a prayer, a hug and other simple things that make one day a little easier.

This also makes it so much easier to comfort a grieving loved one. You will find so many wonderful ideas here at Simple Sympathy. Not only will you not put your foot in you mouth, I bet you will be a treasured friend when it matters the most.

*Be sure to visit this link for an article on the simple sympathy website specifically for supporters of widow(er)s!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Supporting a widow from far away

When you live far away from your widowed friend it is easy to assume that you can’t do anything to help or that all of her friends who live close by are helping her so you aren’t needed, but don’t let distance keep you from supporting your friend in her time of need!
Here are just a few suggestions to get you started. (in no particular order)

1. Send a card - simple and sweet. You don’t have to say much Just a few sweet honest lines. If you have a favorite memory of her spouse be sure to share it in the card, she will cherish that. If you aren’t sure what to say, admit it and keep on writing! Even something short and sweet will help her know that she is still loved and thought about.

2. Food - Since you don’t live close by you cannot drop by with a casserole, but if you want to help her out with food items, consider ordering something from edible arrangements. They will deliver it to her, the arrangements are beautiful and it will give her something healthy to snack on when she does not feel up to eating a full meal.

If you know any of her friends that live near her you could also consider sending them money with which to order her a meal or stock her pantry.

3. Flowers- If you want to send an arrangement of flowers you can usually call a florist in her town and have them create something and send it to the funeral home, for the funeral or viewing.

4. Other gifts - If you would like to send her something other than flowers, there are several nice ideas out there. One thought, is to print out your favorite photo of or with him, frame it and send it to her. This could be included with a letter (see above) recalling a favorite memory you have of him or as a stand alone gift.  Here are a few websites where you can order sweet “in memory of” gifts as well as other gift ideas.

And here are a few more sites with more gift ideas than we included here!  one   two  three

5 - Gift basket - Could be called a care package or a sympathy basket. This is a link to one you can purchase online. It rather little pricey in my opinion, but I love the idea. This would be an easy gift to make yourself, and that way you could personalize it with her favorites as well!
Possible things to include:
“comfort food”, coffee or tea, home made photo book of her beloved, or a picture frame as mentioned above, a cd of soothing music, bath salts, a printed out list of online resources for widows. Etc. There are SO many different things you can include and it is great because you can customize it yourself throwing in a bunch of little things that she will appreciate and cherish.

This would be a good idea either soon after the funeral, or even on an “angelversary"

This is just a short list of ideas to get you started and show you how much you can do even with lots of miles between you and your friend! Get creative and step out and do something! You never know how much even the smallest gift or acknowledgement could help your friend feel loved and remembered in her time of grief. 

What about you?

Have you done anything “from afar” for your widowed friend? Please feel free to comment with more ideas of things you have done to support your widowed friend(s) and we may add them to our list.

Widows: if some one has done something for you that was particularly kind or helpful please also share so we may also add to our list that way as well. 

By Vi - Co Founder of Friends of Widows