My friend Cathy's mother passed away this week, after struggling to fight cancer. She and I talked often before, during, and, well, after. Mostly, I've not included her responses unless they were generic enough and could apply to others. This isn't by any means an exhaustive list of tips, but perhaps what I felt would be useful for Cathy, will be useful to someone.
The service for her mother is this Saturday, 5 pm my time, 2 pm her time. Yeah, it does suck. She is in pain, loved and supported, knew this would happen, but naturally still in pain.
"BTW, let's get to some important questions here -- how are you holding up? I know you have [husband] and family, some more helpful than others. Not sure how your siblings are?
Are you sleeping? You need to sleep. Even if you just lay (lie?) down for a while and not sleep, you're at least resting. Please at least try to.
Sometimes, getting to where you get up, shower, dress in clean clothes, and start the day, is a big deal.
If people are bringing you food over, you do NOT have to bring them inside and entertain them! (Adding: I'm not thrilled to have visitors, anyway, nor feel I must visit others. I guess I got that from both of my parents, ha, Dad always asked when he could be done with having people coming by. But, this was about my worst time, all of his things from his small "apartment," my laundry not done, etc., when we most can use a helping hand with things, and I recognized that my friends from church who are also friends needed a way to feel that they helpedand it was great to not cook, is whenwe are most in need of NOT entertaining visitors, IMHO.)
It's okay to get a haircut or new outfit for it if you wish, and it's okay to just look through your closet and throw something on.
All the various emotions are okay, valid. Even some relief, she's not in pain for example, or laughing at some memory, or being upset forsomething else, or just that dull ache. It's all real. I know, it's all too damn real. It sucks.
We're here for you. Love ya -- Robin
p.s. to my beloved readers:
Please know, a card or e-mail not sent that day, or the call not made, isn't late. The person is still dead. The survivors still wish to know that you care and are concerned, especially if you knew the deceased. They are as helpful a week later, or whenever you find out. Also, sometimes at work, I really was not feeling capable of talking about "my loss" and yet, later, I may be. Don't feel turned off if the initial timing doesn't have me open up, i.e., can just ask another day how the person is holding up, and, at this point in regards to my father, we have logistical bs crap we're going through (read paperwork and such). And, if offering to help out, be sincere about it and even offer specific things if you can think of something. Etc.