When death touches the family of someone we love, we often ask the
question, Is there anything I can do? We mean it sincerely, but
sometimes we simply don't know what to do; and the person we want to
help may be hesitant to ask for anything specific or may simply not
be able to identify the help they need. This information is designed
to give you practical suggestions which will enable you to be of
Remember, people often find it
difficult to ask for help. It is vitally important to volunteer.
Following are a number of suggestions. During the first few days or
at funeral time...
- Be a house sitter when the family is away from the home making
funeral arrangements, attending the visitation or attending the
funeral or memorial service.
- If the death occurs out of town and your friend is leaving for
the funeral, pick up their mail and newspaper, water plants and
watch the house.
- Arrange for the care of their pets.
- Answer the telephone. Make a list of names, addresses and
telephone numbers of people who call, stop at the house or offer
to help. Take accurate messages and give brief, correct
- Telephone relatives and friends, notifying them of the death
and the funeral arrangements.
- Clean the house and/or yard in preparation for people coming
for the funeral.
- If needed, do the laundry.
- Keep a written record of food brought to the house including
names, addresses, telephone numbers, the type of food they brought
and a description of the container.
- Return food dishes and pans following the funeral.
- Wash and clean your friend's car.
- Arrange housing for out of town guests.
- Coordinate or help prepare a get together meal for family and
friends prior to or following the funeral.
- Offer to make an enlarged color photocopy of a special picture
for a photo display at the service.
- Help write or address thank you notes to people who sent
flowers or food or made memorial contributions.
- Write a description of the flowers on the backs of flower
- Help receive friends during the visitation by being at the
- Run errands such as grocery shopping, going to the cleaners,
picking up people at the airport, etc.
- Offer transportation for family or friends going to the
- If the death occurred in a nursing home, pick up the deceased
- If the deceased had any rented medical equipment at home,
arrange for its return.
- Transport school age children or offer to keep young children.
- Check the calendar of the deceased and/or your friend, and
call to cancel or change appointments.
- Clip the obituary notice from the newspaper. Send it to family