Providing longer term support can make a lasting impact on the family and develop a strong relationship with the church
It may feel quite natural to support a family when a loved one is ill or just after they have died, but it is less common to offer support which lasts for the longer haul. After the funeral, visits often die down, and the bereaved person can begin to feel less numb as the reality of what has happened sinks in. Eventually outsiders can feel that those who experienced the bereavement should be ‘over it’. However providing longer term support can make a lasting impact on the family and develop a strong relationship with the church.
Here are some ways to support the family in the longer term:
- Get in touch regularly, whether through a visit or a phone call. If you’re in regular contact you’re in a good place to see how they are coping.
- Provide continuing practical support, whether meals or lifts, but try to ensure you are not disempowering them, as they will find having some practical jobs to do helpful. Taking them shopping or helping them plan their meals can provide a helpful balance
- Look out for signs that they’re not coping, so that you can suggest they chat to their doctor.
- Help them look back by remembering with them the person they have lost, but also help them look forward to things they will enjoy in the future.
- Always remember the anniversary of the death, perhaps with a card.
- Consider holding a ‘Light up a life’ service near Christmas for everyone who has been bereaved in the past year. This can be a real help around Christmas time when it’s difficult to do something positive.
- Don’t feel uncomfortable mentioning the bereavement – talk with them about the person who died openly and give them permission to talk about it themselves. Don’t be scared to upset them; it’s OK if they cry.
- The bereavement may bring new caring responsibilities with it, so you may need to chat through these changes with them or offer practical support.