Imagine this situation: Your friend just lost a loved one. You want to do everything you can to offer support, but you live across the country. How can you help when you’re so far away?
It’s likely that many of us have faced this situation over the past year. Even as life returns to a sense of normalcy, there are going to be times when we are unable to physically be with our grieving loved ones. At Sunset View Cemetery and Mortuary, we understand the importance of being there for family and friends in the days and weeks after a loss. Since this isn’t always possible, our caring team has come up with suggestions for our neighbors in El Cerrito, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond on how they can offer support from a distance:
- Call them or arrange a video chat
Rather than sending your friend a quick text, give them a call. Ask them how they are doing and offer your sympathies. If your friend is tech-savvy, consider video chatting so you can see each other, even if just through a screen. Your friend might not answer right away if they’re too overwhelmed by their grief, but by reaching out first, you’re showing your friend you’re here whenever they’re ready.
- Mail a handwritten card
Nothing compares to the personal touch of receiving a letter in the mail. Send your friend a note to express your support and sympathy. Amidst the busyness that often ensues following the death of a loved one, your friend will welcome the heartfelt touch of written communication.
- Send flowers or food
Although you can’t be there to run errands or bring over dinner, you can use local resources to help your friend in practical ways. Order flowers to be delivered with a personal note. Contact a local restaurant to send your friend food or treats so they have one less thing to worry about. You could even make a care package with items you know your friend loves and ship it to their home to show your care and support.
- Keep in touch with their local support system
If you’re having a hard time gauging how your friend is doing, reach out to their friends or family in the area. Ask them to check in on your friend or to drop by on your behalf. Try to avoid reaching out to anyone who may also be grieving the loss.
- Plan a future trip
Maybe you can’t visit your friend at the moment due to work obligations, personal events, or travel restrictions. Look ahead to find a time when you can pay a visit and talk about the possibility together. Your friend might want their space, but they may also appreciate having something to look forward to.
- Commemorate their loved one from afar
If you can’t be there for the funeral or memorial service of your friend’s loved one, there are other ways you can honor and celebrate their life. Some examples include donating to an organization in their name, planting a memorial tree, or lighting a candle to honor their life. Memorializing a friend’s loved one can be a thoughtful way of showing your friend you care from afar.
- Offer consistent support
One of the most important things to remember when helping a grieving friend is to be consistent in your support. After a while, it might be easy to forget to call your friend or you may assume they have moved on and you don’t want to be a bother. However, remember that grief does not operate on a timeline. Your friend needs continuous care and support long after the initial loss. Let them know you are always there, no matter how much time has passed.
It can be hard and stressful to care for your grieving friend when you can’t be there in person. However, there are multitudes of ways to show support from a distance. The most important thing is to let your friend know that you are there for them.
In our more than 100 years serving Bay Area families, we have seen time and again the importance of having a strong support system following a loss. The grieving process looks different for everyone, and we are always here to help if you need further support. Please do not hesitate to reach out.