Here are some helpful funeral planning ideas from guest blogger Kayla Matthews.
Death is part of life, and at some point, we all have to cope with the loss of a loved one. While the passing of a distant cousin or aunt may not affect you much personally, chances are their immediate circle of family is devastated by the loss.
If you’d like to help but aren’t sure how, here are some ways you can be of assistance to those who are mourning. While not every point will be valid for every situation, you’ll be able to adapt one or more to your own circumstances. You’ll feel much better being able to offer specific things you can do, instead of the standard “Call me if you need anything” response so often heard at these times.
Usually the immediate family uses their address book to contact friends and family members, but there always seem to be a few who are missed. Bring your own contact list to the home or funeral home and offer to call anyone who hasn’t been already contacted. You can also offer to make calls to service people such as visiting nurses, cancel doctor’s appointments and handle any other important steps in the process. If you have the time, tell the bereaved to jot down items as they think of them and you can call the next day for your “assignments.”
It seems when there’s a death in the family, everyone brings food, but sometimes that can be a problem. Ask if there’s anything specific needed and offer to arrange for storage of the meals brought by others. You can coordinate with neighbors and family members who live nearby to freeze or refrigerate anything the immediate family doesn’t have room for.
If there’s going to be a reception after the service, someone will need to arrange the catering. Offer to call local caterers and halls for their pricing and make a simple chart of the answers so the family can choose the service that meets their budget. If they plan to hold a potluck reception instead, you can coordinate the incoming dishes so there isn’t an overflow of cakes and not enough casseroles. Tables, chairs, plates, cups and silverware are more examples of things you can coordinate to ease the pressure on the immediate family.
If you’d like to contribute more, ordering memorial cards or taking care of the funeral prints can be helpful. Often these are overlooked in the general planning, yet they give mourners a nice memento of the deceased that will be cherished for decades. If you have time, you can make a photo board of your relative’s life and family so it can be displayed at the visitation.
Kids and Pets
Funeral visitations typically last several days, and this can be way too long for small children and household pets. Offer to babysit or pet-sit for several hours as needed, and you’ll be able to take a lot of pressure off the family. This doesn’t have to be complicated — a visit to a park will relieve stress and pent-up energy for both kids and canines who may not understand why their routine has turned to chaos.
If there are family members and friends coming from out of town, they may need a place to stay during the funeral. While you may not be able to offer up a bedroom, you can make a list of nearby hotels where they can stay. Add rates and directions and note whether they have amenities such as Wi-Fi in the rooms.
All in all, when a distant family member has passed on, there are many small things you can do to ease the burden on the immediate family. The main thing is to listen to their needs and to remember their pain won’t go away on the day of the funeral. Remember to call them in a week and a month to see what else you might be able to do for them in their time of loss.
Kayla Matthews is a blogger who writes on everyday happiness and quality of life. You can read more posts by Kayla at ProductivityTheory.com.
Funeral image by PROStephan Ridgway