Editor’s Note: The following is taken from the OSF Home Care Messages of Hope booklet, “When You are Far Away From a Loved One.”
Last week, we shared how the use of technology and snail mail could be used when supporting loved ones from a distance after losing someone special. Here are a few more ways you can support your family and friends from a distance when they are dealing with a loss.
Do some long-distance homework. Talk to the local hospice bereavement coordinator and find out what resources are available. Contact your loved one’s pastor to find out what might be available through their church community. Call one of their local friends and use them as a vehicle to accompany them to a grief session or support group meeting.
Once involved, they will often continue attending. Not only do they receive support and encouragement, but it opens the door to new friendships and others with whom they can share their grief and receive support.
Time for Grief
Another important factor is to remember that everyone needs time. Those first birthdays, holidays, etc., are very difficult and can be very lonely. Make sure you offer this support for more than two weeks or two months. The next 12 months are loaded with “firsts” that your loved one must survive alone.
Keep the support on track month after month. When you call or write them, don’t ignore the “elephant in the room.” Talk about their loved one, allow them to talk about their loved one and work through their grief at a pace that is right for them. Many times, we don’t realize that burying grief does not make it go away.
Talking about the loved one they lost allows them to start thinking about the good memories. Sharing conversation also relieves their burden. No two people grieve the same, so listen carefully and follow their needs and time frame, not yours.
If possible, visit your family member. Two or three short visits spread throughout the year are often better than one long visit. If you plan ahead, there are often low-cost fares available.
Consider buying them a ticket to come and visit you for a few days. Sometimes a change of scenery or a visit with other family members can change or improve their outlook or emotional state.