Death – “I’m Sorry”

8/30/07 1:00 AM , , 1 Comments

Someone close to someone you know dies. You feel bad, but what can you do? Well, here are the things people usually do today, and why they are or are not a good idea:

  • FlowersNo good. Yes, they look great at the visitation, and everyone can obviously judge how much a person was loved by the amount of roses or carnations present right? Wrong. What this actually does is create a giant mess for the survivors as they are trying to come to terms with their loss and now have to figure out how to get rid of a bunch of dead plants. An okay alternative is fake flowers (because they could at least be sold on eBay or something.)

  • PlantsNo good. They function much like flowers in the ever-powerful need for visual representation of esteem, but unlike flowers, they are not as easy to dispose of because they are alive. This is just what someone wants, a living monument to remind them of their loved one’s death. Yes, the death, not the life. If the plant was in honor of the life, it would have been in the survivor’s possession before they became a survivor. What you have now blessed them with is another chore/responsibility during a time when they already feel overwhelmed. For years to come they will feel the need to keep this plant alive and when it finally meets its demise, they will feel some fresh or extra guilt about the passing of their loved one. An okay alternative is fake plants (because they could at least be sold on eBay or something.)
  • Giant statues, memorial plaques, etcNo good. The only sensible memorial at a time like this is the actual headstone for the dearly departed. No survivor wants a giant monument to the death of their loved one. (Read Plants). A headstone is a monument to the person’s life and is the only one necessary. An alternative would be to take up a collection to donate toward the purchase of a headstone because those puppies aren’t cheap.

  • FoodGood and no good. Making something for the survivor to eat is a good idea. Most likely they aren’t thinking about food or aren’t even hungry, but if the food is there and requires minimal effort, they will eat it. Here’s where it gets tricky though – food can also be a bad idea. To keep food in the good column, do these little extras:
    - Use disposable food containers, or label your container well. The last thing a survivor is thinking about is who brought what or getting your dish back to you immediately. Don’t add any stress. Disposable containers are the best option because then the survivor doesn’t have to clean them or worry about returning them. They can toss them when they are finished. A good way is to label the container “Throw away” so that when they are finished and try to clean or return, they know just to toss it.
    - Keep the food simple. Don’t fix something extravagant or exotic for the survivor. The stress and grief at the time may give them an upset stomach and plain, standard, or bland foods are the perfect option. The last thing you want to do is burn their tongue or make them sick. Some examples would be meat trays, cheese trays, bread, potato salad, cookies, chips, etc. Keep it simple and label what it is if it’s not simple.

  • MoneyGood and the best. Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy just about everything else. The expenses at this time for the survivor can be overwhelming and they all hit at once. Help alleviate some of the burden by collecting money for them. At the time, the survivor will say “I can’t think of anything” when you ask them what you can do. At the time, they are having trouble thinking at all. In about a week, the haze of the event clears and cash becomes extremely tight, or maybe their loved one used to perform certain tasks and now they have to hire someone else to do them. This is where your help can be most welcome. If children are involved, extra money NEVER hurts. Words of caution though, do not buy a pre-paid debit card for this. Give them a check, money order, or cash. That way they can use the entire amount and not be limited to what it can or cannot be used for.

  • Memorial funds / charitiesGood. If the survivor requests that you make a donation to a fund or charity in the name of their departed loved one, then it’s a great way to show you care. However, do not take it upon yourself to establish such a fund or bring it up and not follow through on it. You may cause more pain than good.

Anyway, use these tips and keep them in mind the next time the office takes up a collection for a tragedy. They could really help the survivor during a stressful time.

* This post is dedicated to survivors and my friend who had to deal with idiots and their delusions of sympathy.


“If you don’t turn your life into a story, you just become a part of someone else’s story.” – The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents


Unknown said...

There was a podcast on this from Mr Manners a while ago. Here's the link: