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When a friend has lost a loved one, it can be hard to know how to help. In the early days after the loss, it seems that everyone is sending flowers and bringing casseroles, but is there any way to help that’s unique? If you put some thought into it, considering a few simple principles, you’ll be able to find a way to provide meaningful support when it’s most needed.

  • Send something practical. There’s nothing inherently wrong with sending flowers, but it’s likely that a lot of people will do that. If you absolutely must send foliage, consider a potted plant or tree that the family can keep for a long time and plant outside if they’d like to. An even better idea, though, is to send something you know they’ll be able to use.
    • If the family is likely to have company staying at the house, send staples like paper towels and toilet paper.
    • A casserole is a good idea, but a gift card for meal delivery might be more practical, as the family can choose when to use it.
    • A care package with self-care products might be welcome at a time when it’s hard to relax.
    • Gift cards for groceries, gas, and other necessary items can be very helpful when a death prevents family members from working.
  • Consider something meaningful and sentimental. A remembrance item, or something that belonged to the person who has died, can have a big impact on those who loved him or her. A thoughtful card with a heartfelt message can be very comforting and meaningful.
  • Do something. It’s very thoughtful to send something, but even more helpful to take action. Can you run an errand, drop off some groceries, mow the lawn, or pick up the kids from school? Can you help with childcare, or offer a ride? Think about the things the family needs in order to keep functioning and living their normal lives.
  • Be there. Allow the grieving family the space they need to mourn, but keep in touch to let them know you’re available. A simple text that says “I’m here if you need me” can be very comforting. If your friend is up to an outing, consider going out for coffee or just for a walk, so that you can listen to what he or she needs to say. Don’t push, but be open to talking about the person who has died, if that’s what your friend needs. It can also be helpful to offer a respite from grieving, a chance to relax and laugh, so don’t be afraid to have a lighthearted outing if that’s what your friend seems to need.
  • Don’t forget. There’s a rush to offer support after a death occurs, but grief does not end when the funeral is over. Each person’s timeline is different, but most people still need assistance after the initial onslaught of well-wishers has abated. Offer to help clean out closets or handle unfamiliar tasks in the weeks and months that follow the funeral. Beyond that, offer support in years to come, remembering special days that may be painful for your friend, and calling, texting, or sending a card to acknowledge the loss and remember the person who has died. Aside from the big days, keep in touch regularly, reaching out to let your friend know you’re there.

The Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of San Jose is proud to be a part of the Catholic Community in San Jose, California, providing a sacred place where families can remember loved ones in a peaceful and hope-filled setting. If you have questions, we’re happy to answer them. We have three locations: Calvary Catholic Cemetery in San Jose, Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos, and St. John the Baptist Cemetery in Milpitas. If you’d like to know more about our properties, or you need to know where to send flowers, you can contact us through our website, or call Calvary at 833-428-0379, Gate of Heaven at 833-304-0763, or St. John the Baptist at 833-428-0379.


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