As a friend or loved one, it is your role to provide support when life becomes difficult. Nothing is more challenging than a death, and your ability to show you care can go a long way in emotionally supporting someone in a time of need. Here are some ways you can express your sympathy and ease their pain.
Support the Immediate Family
Often following a death, family members close to the deceased lose the ability to fully take care of themselves. They may appear emotionally detached, regarding the situation with cold indifference. Funeral preparations and phone calls from loved ones may be sapping their time and energy.
Try offering temporary child care. Those with children, especially young children, will find themselves distracted and possibly unable to deliver the attention their children require. Young children may be unable to grasp the finality of the situation. It’s important that they be given the chance to live normally. Child care can alleviate the stress children pick up from their parents, or offer a helpful shoulder in the event one of their parents has passed.
Cooking homemade meals is a heartfelt way to show you care. This also lowers the stress of keeping up with daily chores. The bereaved can also be so mired in misery they forget to eat. Other helpful assistance includes cleaning, buying groceries, and doing laundry.
Never criticize the funeral proceedings. Rituals have changed. Some funerals may not seem to adhere to formal customs and styles. Always let the immediate family conduct the proceedings on their own terms. Sometimes grief is handled through a ceremony or practice that may seem odd at first. For example, a roast centered on the recently deceased.
The most important role you can play is one of support. Grief “belongs” to the person experiencing pain. This may seem like common sense at first glance, but this issue can manifest in many ways. Respect a griever’s space. Don’t offer advice if they don’t want it.
Respect how they choose to express their trauma. Some may lash out at those around them. Be prepared to be the brunt of their pain, or at least give some distance and time.
When attending the funeral ceremony, consider finding a babysitter for small children. Toddlers and babies can interrupt the ceremony. While adorable in most instances, this can cross a rudeness line for some survivors of the deceased. Most funerals last up to an hour. If you have children who are unable to tolerate silence for an hour, hire a sitter.
Some involved in the grieving process may be unable to express themselves. Not everyone is open. Introverts experiencing depression may appear cold or indifferent. Others may make jokes to deflect the grief, which can appear insensitive. Remember that people suffer differently. If you don’t know how to respond to a situation or comment, thank them for their attendance. The best strategy is to ignore what you can’t handle. Emotions are running high, and confrontations can easily surface from singular, misunderstood comments.
Make a Gesture
There are many other ways to support grieving families. A simple thank you note to the pallbearers, and funeral speakers or the officiant can itself be a greater expression than what is actually written in the notes. You could also provide an honorarium. Honorariums are tips offered for providing pro bono services. Some religious leaders or those close to the family helping with the eulogy would appreciate a monetary gift. This also goes for those who provide music or help clean up after the funeral.
Several options exist for ordering flowers for the funeral, many of which depend on faith. Some common etiquette surrounding faith-based floral arrangements:
- Catholic: Floral arrangements are acceptable and open to interpretation.
- Orthodox: White floral arrangements are preferred
- Jewish: Check with the synagogue. Flowers are not often not acceptable. Sometimes arrangements will be set up outside the synagogue doors.
- Buddhism: Floral arrangements are acceptable and open to interpretation.
- Mormon: Floral arrangements are acceptable and are not open to interpretation. Do not arrange flowers in a cross formation or atop any holy symbols.
There are various types of floral arrangements to choose from, depending on your relationship to the deceased. The closest members of the family often use casket sprays, which are simply flowers draped on the casket. Barring close family, sometimes religious figures or the community will provide a spray.
Sometimes the immediate family will also order lid arrangements, which are flowers placed inside the casket. Providing money for the lid arrangement is a nice way to support immediate family members.
Group flowers are often placed around the sympathy cards or near food. Co-workers, distant friends and family, and other groups associated with the deceased may choose to provide their own floral arrangements to help decorate the hall.
Floral pieces are beautiful arrangements placed close to the casket. Relatives and other family will often place these on the table with the casket or somewhere near the body.
What to Avoid
Unless you are a member of the deceased’s immediate family, do not sit in the front two rows of seats. These are reserved for the closest family members and lifelong friends. Clothing is generally muted and formal. Use your best judgment based on the family and time of year.
Avoid giving gifts that may come across as silly. Animal balloons or bright colors may not be appreciated.
Over everything else, be supportive. Grieving family members need love. How it is expressed varies from person to person, but everyone needs love.
Martin’s Flowers Services
The large range of arrangements and services provided by Martin Flowers can help express poignant, wordless sympathy. We offer casket flowers, lid displays and funeral sprays. The floral arrangements come in a wide variety of styles, from baskets and vases to urns and baskets. The composition variety is stunning and allows for a wide range of expression. Martin’s also offers same-day flower delivery to anywhere in the Toronto area.
If you are looking for the perfect choice, please call Martin’s at (416) 766-6121 and the team will be ready to assist you.