Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I don't know what to say...

My response to death has been forever changed.  It isn't that I haven't done appropriate things in the past, but now I know more....

In the two and a half weeks since my son-in-law, Chase, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly we have learned a lot and been blessed and touched by the very, very kind actions of family, friends, and strangers.  My sweet daughter Emily and her children have been the recipients of many tender actions, words of love, prayers, kind thoughts, and financial contributions.

I am choosing to record many of the kindnesses shown so I will remember and have a working list of ideas when sadness invades the lives of others.  I hope my need for this list is limited, but I also hope that it may be of benefit to others who wonder what to do when a loved one steps into the next phase of life.

  • Many people simply said, "I just don't know what to say..." but they came anyway.  They held our hands, offered hugs and loved us in our grief.  This helps more than you'll ever know.
  • Orange Juice -  A dear woman brought two gallons of orange juice, and then a couple of days later, another gallon.  It was the only thing Emily ate or drank for 3 days.  It kept everyone hydrated when nothing else sounded good.
  • 6 boxes of Kleenex with lotion.  We cried lots.
  • The snack box.  Emily's sister created a box of granola bars, fruit snacks, candy items, protein bars, etc.  It was wonderful for kids and grown ups alike.
  • Meals - Amazing foodstuffs appeared.  Soups, bread, desserts, sandwich supplies, casseroles, a full out thanksgiving feast, granola (it was a godsend the day of the funeral), and a breakfast casserole for the day after the funeral.
  • Visits.  Just people stopping by to offer condolences.
  • Gifts for the children whose daddy was gone. Books, bracelets, toys, crayons, clothing.
  • Fruit.  Baskets, bowls and trays.  Every bite eaten up!
  • Money tucked into cards.  Some signed and some not, but all with gentle notes of love.
  • Letters. Letters to various family members who have suffered the loss of husband, father, son, brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law and friend.
  • Help.  Babysitting, house cleaning, and car cleaning inside and out.
  • Dishwashing.  I'm not sure how all the dishes were washed or by whom, but they were cleaned by helping hands.
  • A party for the children on the evening of the viewing.  Our son's in-laws planned a wonderful party and invited all the cousins (all of my grandchildren) to the event.  It was so good for them to have fun and for the parents not to worry about them.
  • WATER:  An ice chest full of bottled water was provided at the viewing and then at home for the next few days.  It was a huge blessing for all the family {both sides} at the viewing and then again at home.
  • Alterations.  A sewing wizard/friend made sure that all the viewing and funeral clothing was in tip-top shape for the whole family.
  • Floral gifts.
  • Homemade fudge.
  • Phone calls from near and far. We have heard from dear friends from each phase of our lives and the love and support warms our hearts and alleviates our sadness.
  • Music. Someone dear came and played the piano.  I watched Emily's healing begin.
  • Donations to the memorial fund to help care for the children, and the child yet to be.
  • Attendance at the viewing and the funeral.
  • Ongoing offers to help, and follow up calls to make arrangements to do so. Never again will I say, "Let me know if you need help."  Not because I don't mean it, but because those in grief don't know what they need.  The concrete offers have been such blessings. {"I want to come over once a week and help with housekeeping.  I want to come at the same day and time each week.  Would Thursday work for you?"  "I am free on Saturday evening from 5 -11 and I'd love to watch your kids."}
  • A friend attended the viewing and was "on call" for anything that was needed. She ran errands and was the "go to" girl of the evening.  I'm not sure what we'd have done without her that day or the day of the funeral.  She was discreet, but our family all knew she was there if we needed anything.
  • The evening of the viewing friends came to the house and said, "Can we take anything up to the church for you?"  When we arrived at the church the items had not only arrived safely, but had already been set up in a display.  I was SO thankful!
  • A nursery was provided on the day of the funeral so young children could be occupied while the parents attended the service.
  • A text to ask Emily what her favorite beverage was, and then it showed up for her, along with lip gloss and extra water. Just in case...
  • A utility bill paid on Em's behalf. (For a whole year!)
  • Folding Laundry.  It seems some of the most basic household chores seem insurmountable for the first week or two. This was a blessing.
  • Dry cleaning drop off/ pick up.
  • Ongoing help, messages of love, expressions of concern, and check up phone calls. 
I know this list will continue to grow. In the midst of great sorrow we feel extremely blessed by the goodness and love that has been shown to our family.  God bless us, everyone.

PS... If you are wondering how Em and the kids are, here is an update: Em's Family


  1. I'm so glad to hear how your friends & family have rallied around Emily.

    I hope you don't mind--I shared this blog post on my FB page. I just has so many fantastic, concrete ideas of what TO do.


  2. Hugs and love to you, and to every set of wondrous hands that helped. Just . . . just love.

  3. Thank you for sharing this list. This reminded us of the many thoughtful loving and practical things that can be done for others at this time and I apreciate having these to refer to when it is sometimes hard to think and know what to do.

    You are so sensitive and caring and I want to be like you. Much love and blessings to Emily and each and everyone in your family.

  4. Wow. Tears are in my eyes. Today would have been my hubby's 41st birthday. He passed very unexpectedly, one year, one week and one day after our 1 year anniversary. We have 5 children. He was 36, I was 26 the kiddos were 3,3,5,6 and 7. I completely understand her loss and will pray for her and the children.

  5. Oh man, I am so sorry. I had not idea until I came back to catch up on some reading. My prayers are with you, your daughter and your family.

    take care,


Your thoughts are always welcome!