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How to help my very dear friend

(32 Posts)
HiccupHaddockHorrendous Tue 10-Jan-17 13:35:05

My dear friend's eldest ds died yesterday.
I am so devastated for her and the rest of the family. I want to help but I don't know what to do. I don't want to push myself on them but I'd hate to think she was by herself.
I know I can't make it better but I feel I should do something.
Also, her in-laws live very close to me and I was going to call in on them but i don't want to intrude.
So very very sad for them all.

MollyHuaCha Tue 10-Jan-17 13:45:38

How terrible. She's lucky to have a friend like you. Maybe drop a card through her letter box telling her you are there for her, but don't want to intrude, so it's up to her to contact you if she's like company. Also you could possible take a meal round - something like cottage pie made in a foil tray (so she does not have to worry about returning yr dish). A little note on the pie could give the reheating instruction or option to freeze it. A basket of fresh fruit too perhaps. In her position I would appreciate that.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Tue 10-Jan-17 13:59:59

Thanks for the reply, molly.
Yes, I was thinking about cooking something but couldn't think what would be best...cottage pie would be very easy for them to reheat/freeze wouldn't it. Good suggestion.
Think I'll do the same for the inlaws.

bigbluebus Tue 10-Jan-17 15:44:01

Having recently lost my DD, the things people did for us were:

Send card/messages in their hundreds lots of them offering to help in any way they could.
Ring for a chat.
Send flowers - although we ran out of vases in the end and had to borrow some off a friend that had offered to do anything to help!
Call around (pre-arranged) and visit just to talk - with/without a bottle of wine.
Turn up with home made shepherds pie which came in very useful after a busy day of funeral arranging.
Ring from time to time to see if there was anything they could do - even though they'd already offered.
Hugs - lots of them.

All of the above were much appreciated by us and even though Christmas was high on everyone's agenda at the time of our loss, friends continued to stay in touch and check we were ok after the funeral.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Tue 10-Jan-17 20:25:53

Thank you for taking the time to reply and I'm so sorry for your loss.
I have found today so unbearable so can't even begin to imagine how my friend and her family are coping.
My friend has had to travel some distance today to where her ds was living so I haven't been to see her but have just sent her a message. It all feels so insignificant though. sad

echt Wed 11-Jan-17 06:07:13

Your message isn't insignificant, Hiccup. It will lend immediate comfort, and be looked back on with pleasure and gratitude.

I treasure every text, email, letter card, message and Facebook post that expressed someone's feelings about my DH, or asked how I was doing.

minmooch Wed 11-Jan-17 07:10:58

Likewise I have kept every text, email, card or letter that I received after my son died. It proves to me that his life mattered to other people as well as me.

Keep in touch. Don't not ring her. Silence is dreadful and it can be very hard to pick up the phone. Your friend may not pick up but will listen to any messages you leave.

Offer specific help - intimes of distress it's impossible to think what you might have help with.

Cook a freezable meal, offer to go to florist/dry cleaner/shop etc.

My best friend went out and bought me 4 dresses to try on for his funeral. I simply could not go in to a shop and look for a dress to wear at my own son's funeral. This was probably the most intimate, most helpful thing ever.

Keep in touch. Say her son's name.

Remember birthdays, anniversaries. Dates that are hard - Mother's Day etc. Say his name.

Keep in touch.

Do not be afraid of her grief because her grief is way worse than your fear of seeing hers grief. Cry with her.

Do not say there is a reason for this. Do not say he's in a better place. Hold her and agree with her that this is shit. Do not try to make her feel 'better' as that feels as if you are minimising her pain. Her pain is her love and her love is her strength.

Keep in touch.

Keep in touch. Even when she does not answer nor ring youback.

Keep in touch.

bigbluebus Wed 11-Jan-17 12:36:16

One of the things many people said to us was "there are no words" because there really wasn't anything that anyone could say that would make us feel better or change what had happened. Just be there for her. Offer a shoulder to cry on and any practical help you are able to give either just making sure she eats and drinks or helping with funeral planning.

If her DS lived away and she needs to clear out his belongings from rented accomodation, are you able to help with that if it needs to be done sooner rather than later?

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Wed 11-Jan-17 17:35:43

Thank you, all, for the replies.
I'm so sorry that you've all experieienced losses and am very grateful for the advice you are giving.
I've sent her a few messages and just had a brief text-conversation with her.
I made up a few cottage pies last night and bought a few cartons of soup for them to keep in the fridge.
She's such a good friend and always puts everyone else's needs before her own.
I will offer to help collect his belongings but is it too soon? My brain is working at double time and I really don't want to overstep the mark. I just feel so very sad for her.
In time, I will direct her to this section of mn because you are all so incredibly supportive.

Timeforabiscuit Wed 11-Jan-17 17:40:48

The meals and soup will be very much appreciated im sure! Perhaps offer of help to babysit or pet sit as needed?

Im sure the offer of an extra pair of hands or support would be welcome, its so raw though and it may be in hand, or think its in hand and its not.

endofthelinefinally Wed 11-Jan-17 17:46:16

My Ds died 4 months ago.
The thing that helped the most was people bringing food. Otherwise we wouldn't eat.
People offered to bring shopping for essentials - bread, milk, toilet rolls, things we needed.
Offer to do errands, tasks outside the home that involve driving or travelling.
Offer to let other people know - neighbours, school friends.
Just be there. Visit and make tea and snacks.
Get some vases from the local charity shop - they won;t have enough for the inevitable flowers.

endofthelinefinally Wed 11-Jan-17 17:51:30
My thread is here. You are welcome to read it and I hope that you might find it helpful.

bigbluebus Wed 11-Jan-17 18:33:48

Hiccup I was only suggesting that you help with collecting her DS's belongings now if he was living in rented accomodation which may mean they need to be moved out quickly. If there is no rush re the accomodation then it can wait. I haven't even started doing anything with my DDs belongings yet after 5 weeks - but it is all in her bedroom in our house as she lived at home.

MollyHuaCha Wed 11-Jan-17 21:09:49

flowersflowersflowers big hugs for those in this thread whose lives have been saddened by the loss of a child.

echt Thu 12-Jan-17 08:01:02

While I'm here offering advice, be specific in offers of help rather than the general just ask me. The bereaved have enough on their plate without the added burden of asking for help.

Oh, and keep offering in the later weeks and months; it's then that the silences kick in. Don't take no as a knock back. They may be really doing something else, or not up to it.

I'm aware this sounds rather directive, but try not to be discouraged in your generosity. You sound like such good friend, Hiccup.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Fri 13-Jan-17 10:06:57

Thank you again for taking the time to post and thank you, endof, for sharing your thread.
flowers to you all.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Fri 13-Jan-17 10:12:10

Posted too soon!
I have seen my friend this morning and I really don't know how she's holding all together but she is.
Thank you all so much for your advice and suggestions. I'm very grateful for all of it.

TartYvette Fri 13-Jan-17 10:13:08

Re the food thing, when a family member was involved in an accident once a neighbour dropped over a cooked ham, fresh crusty bread and a jar of mustard for sandwiches and another brought a couple of bowls of salads (couscous type ones that lasted a few days) they were a great and handy alternative to shepherds pie.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Fri 13-Jan-17 10:39:00

Great suggestion, thank you!
My cooking skills aren't the best so I do worry about inflicting my concoctions on others (I kept the cottage pie to a very basic recipe - instead of emptying the fridge of any random leftover veg like I normally would!!).
I'll pop to the shops later...maybe a cooked beef joint to go with it so they can either warm it up with veg or have it cold in a sandwich.

HiccupHaddockHorrendous Fri 13-Jan-17 10:51:59

Bigblue - thanks for your post. I couldn't work out how to offer, via text, to take her to collect his belongings (because I feel it all comes out the wrong way). However, while she was here this morning she mentioned that he'd been in the process of moving so his things had already been brought home.
I really am very grateful to you all for sharing what must be the most horrendous experience.

MaryPlain59 Sat 14-Jan-17 18:28:58

I am so sorry to all of you on here who have suffered such sad loss x Can anyone remember where the thread was which contained a really helpful list of Dos and Don'ts when we are wanting to help a bereaved family? I would also like to support a friend in the best way possible who has sadly lost her beloved DS this week and remember the list was so helpful but cannot find it now.

MaryPlain59 Thu 09-Feb-17 20:27:26

Just wanted to ask again for advice, my friend is now a month down the line from losing her son to suicide and is naturally so distressed, I feel so helpless as to the best way to comfort her and am anxious about saying the wrong thing when I am with her but I am not sure of the right kind of things to say when she is so distraught and says she can't face the future. Could anyone who sadly had experience please say what they found helpful or unhelpful at such a terrible time as I so want to do anything I can for her now and in the future months and years.

echt Fri 10-Feb-17 08:33:54

Mary, fab name, and a childhood heroine of mine.

I have no experience of such suicides, but of a child's death, but what I found was they always wanted to talk about their child; it's the silences that disallow them. Now I think of it, it's exactly the same for adults.

Do you have a photo they don't have, something that shares an event? It's a good way in.

Wallywobbles Fri 10-Feb-17 08:40:46

When my sister died people brought food which was useful. Stuff that can be frozen is an excellent plan. Lots of people cook, but if it cannot be frozen it's more complicated to manage.

Basically ask.

A funeral is a lot of organisation in a short time. And grief makes you very scatty. So they might well need a temporary administrative aid if you see what I mean.

I have a very big family and everyone had jobs. Mine was organizing the funeral. So sorting out programs, who is going to do a reading, what is it going to be, order of service that kind of thing initially. Then stuff like parking. Letting people know.

MuseumOfCurry Fri 10-Feb-17 08:50:57

My best friend went out and bought me 4 dresses to try on for his funeral. I simply could not go in to a shop and look for a dress to wear at my own son's funeral. This was probably the most intimate, most helpful thing ever.

This has made me well up. So sorry for those of you who have lost children.

flowers for all

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