The grief that hit our state was unbearable! Going through that time alongside my dearest friend was something I never wanted to go through again. Last night, we got news of our dear sweet Dozer, adoring son to Marsha and David, going to heaven.
The men of the family were simply enjoying their afternoon by the pond when Dozer had removed his life vest. He was just shy of being three years old and is now forever in the presence of the Lord.
One thing that many people are asking themselves is this, "What do I say? What can I do?"
Heart of the Matter, an online publication for homeschooling families, has an address where cards can be sent. Marsha is one of their team members and they are forwarding loving, supportive correspondence to their family.
After the initial wave of attention a family receives, the cards will stop coming, the phone calls will cease, then the silence sets in. Being there by my friend's side just moments after the news came, was an incredible time. The flood of visitors was overwhelming! All through the night and throughout the next week, hundreds of people were coming to their home, and thousands of flowers were being delivered. They had so many meals being brought that they literally had to give the food away to their guests. They had the 'celebration of life' service at the end of the week and after that the silence set in.
Every family needs time to grieve, but each family grieves differently. Although my friend welcomed the company into her home during this time, they also needed time to just be a family. I called her this morning and she gave me some helpful tips on how to help a family who has lost a little loved one.
1. Do say "We're praying for you!"
2. Send cards often! Not just initially, but each month, on the child's birthday, on the date of the child's 'homegoing', and on holidays.
3. Meals- frozen food and gift certificates to food establishments.
4. Phone calls to be guarded and monitored. Have someone to field calls and write down all messages. The family may not want to be on the phone, but will appreciate all calls and will read over messages.
5. Have someone compassionate who can make phone calls for the family.
6. Create a schedule of visits to check on the family. It is vitally important to have men visit the dad! Most people tend to flock to the mother's side, but dad's need just as much support.
7. When visiting: Follow the family's lead. Some may choose to stand or sit in silence and the presence of a friend sitting near them is of great comfort. While others may want to talk about normal life. Follow their lead.
8. Help with housework. Now this can differ as well. Some family's use house chores as a way to release their stress. If this is so, do NOT make them stop. Allow them to do what they need to do or work alongside with them. A very close friend or family member may offer to clean the child's room. When the parent's are ready to do so they'll seek your help.
9. Online Friends: My friend's online support was phenomenal! Polite, loving, supportive e-mails were welcomed. She was able to read through them on her own time table. On days when she needed a pick me up, she would catch up with e-mails. Do not be offended if you don't hear back from the family. Just pray.
10. Phone calls: Close friends should call each week. Even if you just get the machine. Leave a message that you're praying for them. Don't allow them to feel 'forgotten'. Talk about normal life.
11. Send small gifts to the the siblings. This kind of loss is especially hard on little ones. Many times they do not understand what is going on.
1. Don't cry in front of the person. The family will be trying to hold it together and breaking down in front of them is very difficult.
2. Don't ask about the accident. Don't ask for details. Allow them to decide when to tell you and what they want to tell you.
3. Don't say 'Time Will Heal'. Sharing your own words of advice doesn't help. Just be there. If the family wants counseling they will seek their own counselor. Do not 'recommend' counseling! Most family's will not need counseling. Just allowing them to talk at their pace is helpful. Every person deals with loss differently.
I pray this list will assist you as you reach out to your loved ones during their time of need.
Special heart felt thanks to MeganFtz for her help in composing this article.