I had multiple conversations with people recently about what was helpful for our family whilst Waverly was on hospice. I thought this could be a beneficial post for many of you.
1. Meal delivery is such a fantastic way to help. However, many families don't have the time or energy to chat with visitors. Setting up a cooler on the front porch is a great system. People can fill the cooler with food and then text the family saying a meal was just delivered. (We had my cell number written on a paper taped to the cooler lid.)
2. In addition to meals, we had friends bring paper products - plates, utensils, napkins, cups, etc. Not super environmental, but it certainly was nice to just toss stuff after each meal.
3. Get creative! When setting up a meal train it is nice to get information on food allergies and aversions. The family is going to get a lot of lasagna and chili, so try something new. Also take out from a favorite restaurant is a nice treat. Or just bring snack type items - crackers, cheese, cut up fruit, etc. Having small bites at the ready is so helpful.
4. Fill the house with flowers. I love the fragrance and the beauty flowers provide. And it doesn't have to be a pricey arrangement. We had fresh tulips when Waverly was on hospice and I still buy myself a bunch to brighten the house.
5. Coffee, cupcakes and ice cream can be delivered. Get together with some friends and ship some special treats if you aren't local and able to deliver a meal.
Don't be afraid to create boundaries for yourself. We ended up hanging a sign on our door asking people not to knock or ring the doorbell. We were focusing on our daughter and couldn't take visitors. Even our UPS man and postman knew to just leave packages for us; we would find them. People want to come to say goodbye or to check in on you. Take it moment by moment. Set time limits. When you are in the midst of chaos, it is nice to be able to control some things.
Accept help and try to remember that most people have very good intentions. People are sad and you are in the strange position of grieving and comforting those around you. There are those who want to "cling on". I think some people find purpose in your tragedy. Blow them off.
As difficult as it is, try to be specific with needs. We needed people to help us drive Oliver back and forth to school. We also needed help with raking leaves at the end of autumn. Thankfully we had two friends act as gate keepers for us. They fielded questions and requests. If I needed milk from the grocery store, an email was sent out to those who wanted to help. Soon after I would get a text saying milk was in the cooler. It was incredibly helpful.
I felt a lot of pressure to thank everyone. I realized that I could not possibly keep up. A quick reply text sufficed. Plus my gatekeeper organizer friends were forward thinking, reminding everyone with each message just how grateful we were.
These certainly don't apply to everyone and are only meant as suggestions. I would say don't pop by unexpectedly. A text or a note is a much less intrusive way to say you are thinking of them. Anything you can do to express your love will be appreciated.