When friends and family receive devastating news of a death in their own family or a friend, knowing what to say to those who are grieving can be a daunting idea.

The “silence” is deafening. So, one speaks words they are later sorry they did so. Those who are grieving understand they are just at a loss for words. They just want to say SOMETHING that will help. These words are used often and have sometimes lost their meaning.

Our neighbors opened up their home to us. We could stay there for as long as we needed. We just lived right across the street, but that didn’t matter to them. They wanted to look after us and be available to us and our needs. They screened calls, watched for visitors who stopped by our home, and invited them to come to their house to visit us. When people started bringing meals for us, they thanked them on our behalf and stored them in their freezers. When theirs got too full, they took it to our home. Another time, a friend came by, she sat next to me, gave me a quick hug and just sat there quietly, holding my hand and ready to listen if I felt like talking.

Another friend saw that I was going to lay down and asked if she could help me downstairs. Once I got into bed, she covered me up, knelt down next to the bed and read from a prayer book she saw laying next to me. She never left my side. Finally, someone gave her a chair to sit in so she’d be more comfortable. Every time I woke up to turn over, I could hear her soft voice, praying quietly.

Another friend sat next to me and she noticed that I had a small smile on my face. Something had reminded me of a funny story about Russell. She asked me what I had smiled about. I told her it was a memory of Russell. She kindly and softly asked me if I wanted to share it with her. I did. Gladly.

Without asking, the laundry and ironing got done. Meals were prepared. When our wedding anniversary was a few days away, friends and family didn’t want the day to go by unnoticed. They quietly got a cake, balloons and cards. Nothing too elaborate, but just enough to let us know they remembered what day it was.

There are so many other stories of how we were blessed by such caring friends and family members. There are also things that were said, that were hurtful. In the next section I will share some of those.