20 Ideas for How You Can Help Someone in the First Days After a Death

When a death has occurred, it can be an especially tough time for the immediate family of the deceased.

The below list of 20 ideas can be useful to give to people who offer their help to you, asking what they can do, or if you are the one who would like to help someone who has recently lost a loved one but you're not sure what you can do - any of the ideas on this list will be helpful. 

  1. Pick up family members from the airport that are coming for the funeral.
  2. Offer an extra bedroom to out-of-town family members or friends. Not every home can accommodate extra guests and the grieving families may need space of their own.
  3. Bring folding chairs and tables to the home – they are easy to set up and take down as needed to make visitors comfortable.
  4. Ask if they would like you to reply to any text or voicemail messages on their behalf.
  5. Bring small packs of tissues to the funeral.
  6. Bring large umbrellas to shield family from rain or sun at the funeral
  7. Bring ice in an esky for drinks, fill with water bottles and single serve soft drinks.
  8. Offer to drive grieving people where they need to go. Deep grief can impair driving and concentration. Be willing to sit in the lobby or parking lot – they may want company while finalising arrangements or meeting with the celebrant or clergy.
  9. Clean the house. Ask if you can do a load of washing or take home a basket of ironing.
  10. Mow the lawn. Sweep. Rake leaves. Tidy flower beds.
  11. Bring toilet paper. Paper towels. Paper plates. Napkins. All the things you need when there are extra people in the house.
  12. If one or more of the bereaved people is a carer, offer to take over that responsibility for a time (only if you are sure you can competently manage this).
  13. Take children to the park or out for ice cream. However, be mindful that not all children will be comfortable leaving their parents at this time.
  14. Clean the family’s car before the funeral.
  15. Take the dogs for regular walks.
  16. Offer to drive the family or out-of-town relatives to the funeral and home again.
  17. Cook meals. Bring them in ready to heat dishes or plastic containers for freezing. And don’t expect them to be returned.
  18. Offer to take clothes to the drycleaners - and pick up in time for the funeral.
  19. Offer to be the one who sits with and takes care of toddlers at the funeral, allowing the parents to focus their attention on the ceremony.
  20. Stay in touch – experience tells us that after the funeral is over, visitors and offers of help decline quickly, this is a time when help around the house, ongoing support and a listening ear can be much appreciated.