It is two weeks and one day since my Lovely Dad died. In the midst of this, the saddest I have ever felt in my life, there have been some moments of absolute kindness that have touched not just me, but our family in ways that I will be forever grateful for. So, feeling like I want “do something” I’m writing a post that I hope will be of use to someone else, at some point, when they find themselves in the difficult position of seeing someone you truly love being bereaved.
1. Put a card in the post.
Do it. Send a card. Any card. Get it in the post really quickly. The day you hear of what’s happened. A card with puppies gaily skipping about on it, with “Happy Third Birthday” on the front. Write in it. Say it’s all you had in the house. Tell the people you are writing to that you love them. Put your mobile phone number in the card. Remind them of your email. Tell them, that when they’ve become embarrassed to be calling and texting their closest friends, that in the middle of the night, they can monologue to you with their confused questions, wondering why the world is still turning when it really feels like it shouldn’t be. We ‘delayed’ telling people by 24 / 48 hours and that meant a delay in those cards coming in. Which I am now regretting. Because they had a real effect on all of us – feeling loved like that is a beautiful thing. I will be grateful for them, for the rest of my days. They brought so much comfort.
2. Head to amazon and send this book.
Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg. I will be buying this and sending it to people who experience loss with the following message: This has brought me so much comfort and strength and a confidence that the future is possible so I hope it may be of use to you. If you think it’s utterly shit, please draw on it, write every swear word known to mankind across the pages and then burn it. Because if nothing else, that might get some anger out. I don’t mind either way. I’m here for you. << insert mobile number >>
3. Head to amazon and buy ….
toys / books / colouring pens – washable ones – for the children in that house, buy something that will be an interesting, low level, temporary distraction from the sadness and watching people cry. It’s a rubbish experience to be out of tears yourself and not know what to do, when the grown ups are all sobbing around you. We’ve had so much fun with the “50 pranks to play on your friends” set. The boys thought it was great and it’s given them things to rehearse and refine together in their room. And of course, coming via amazon, it arrived the next day.
4. Deliver food for the fridge
Within hours of my Dad dying, we had food for tea that night in the fridge – a cooked chicken, ready done mash, veg for the microwave and pre made gravy. And pudding. Closely followed the next day by lasagne and pudding. So appreciated. So needed. If you are worried about feeling that you may intrude, please do it anyway, and then leave it on the doorstep, with a text message if you really do not want to ring the doorbell. It was useful for ensuring we all still kept eating.
And then, just as beautifully, on the day of the funeral one of my lovely squad arrived with biscuits, lots and lots of different hot chocolate sachets, marshmallows and milk – in case people did end up coming back to our house after the wake. That was so thoughtful and we will be forever grateful for all of these things. Today is the first day of half term and we are all poorly, to varying degrees. So what are we doing? Taste testing and ranking those sachets of hot chocolate! Brilliant – liquid going in, something to complain about / rave about and we’re still on the sofa, and liquid is going in.
If you are too far away to do this, head over to cook and order something to arrive with them directly at their home.
5. Go to their social media account, find all the photos you can of your friend and their family with the person who has died.
Download, screen shot, set up links – collate them. And put them on a google drive so that they can be found easily so someone can treasure them. Or if you’re me, use them for the order of service – I couldn’t find photos of my Lovely Dad. So I ended up trawling my own instagram and FB to find some. It took forever and was a difficult thing to do. This is so perfect if you are short of funds – I’m conscious that many of my suggestions involve spending money and that’s not what I actually wanted this to be about.
6. If you have sewing skills.
Now this may not work for everyone. But it has for us. We’ve sent my Dad on his way in his favourite jumper. He will be so pleased to be wearing it, wherever he is. But the trouble was, we wanted that favourite jumper here, to keep as a beautiful reminder of him as well!! So, I asked one of my dearest friends, if she could take ‘a piece’ out of it for me, so I could keep it with me. I knew I didn’t want to hold on to Dad’s clothes as a wardrobe. But I did want this jumper. I was so torn. Thankfully, she took the job on and said no worries. Being a wool jumper, things were more difficult. So she ended up taking it to choir practise where someone with even more skills than her own, took it apart and help us get some small pieces from it, showing the pattern and colours. She and her friend hemmed every stitch and made it beautiful. So beautiful for us. We’re going to treasure those pieces of jumper forever. Whilst knowing that I’ve not held onto his entire wardrobe wondering if / when I’ll ever be able to let it go. I do have some t shirts and jumpers. But I hope in time to let them go and just keep his favourite.
7. Gift a photo frame.
I’d never thought of this, but when a friend brought it to me, she said she’d been trying to re scale one of my favourite photos for me, but it wouldn’t print as she wanted it to. I love the frame now and will keep it, with a photo of Dad and I in it. Turns out I can’t even re size that one myself to fit it, but I’ll make it work – and it gives me a project in the coming weeks as well. Which will be a nice distraction.
8. Support their business
Now, this will read so strangely to many people. But if you own a business, at the point where your Dad dies, you don’t feel much like marketing “pay day yay” or Valentine’s gifts. I’m now having moments of “arrrgggghhh” at having not worked for two weeks on anything Hope House Press related. It’s not good to have those feelings swirling with everything else. So imagine how much of a surprise it’s been, to see friends sharing our historical posts on social media to keep our algorithms moving, and buying our products. It could be a coincidence, but I’ve chosen to take it as a “sign” that people want to help and are rooting for us. If the person you care about works for someone else, perhaps consider making a note of the day they are going back to work and leave flowers for them at reception – daffodils are bright, beautiful and inexpensive, so they are perfect for this type of thing. If neither of these things work, set an alarm on your phone to text them partway through their day and towards the end of it, so you can say “I’m here. I don’t need or want a reply unless you want to, but I’m here and thinking of you”. Knowing we are not alone is a beautiful thing.
So. That’s what I can think of at the moment. I’ve been drafting this post in my head for several days. I find it hard to concentrate on anything. I know that we won’t feel this sad forever. That it’s not permanent. Still, hard to be in the midst of it. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know and I’ll add them in the post. x