Go to the store and buy paper products and a ready-to-eat meal or some family-sized frozen meal that can be popped in the oven easily. Grab some soft drinks and jugs of tea. Offer to clean the toilets or make sure all of the beds have clean linens. Do the things you know you would want done if you were about to have a boat load of company unexpectedly. Sit there and listen to the family talk. Don't try to fix it because, unfortunately, you can't. Be present. Be helpful. Be the friend you would want by your side in a time of crisis.
"Laughter through tears is my FAVORITE emotion..."
There's laughter too ... a lot of laughter. Mostly, I laugh at the less-than-appropriate things other people say. I thought I would share the joy today.
On day two of Life without Gayla, I was in the area of our gym and already had it on my list of to-dos to cancel our gym memberships at LAFitness. I had just left sister’s office after visiting with her sweet co-workers and was already pretty shaky and emotional. I walked into the gym, asked for the manager and explained what had happened. I asked the perky little blonde manager, "What do I need to do to cancel our memberships?" Miss Perky didn't say anything in answer but began typing away on the computer and asking me questions about addresses and e-mails. After a couple of minutes of silently and uncomfortably waiting there, Perky turned to me, gave me a sheet of paper she had printed off and explained that I just needed to mail said paper. I thanked her and turned to leave. Perky smiled, waved to my retreat and called out, "Thank you! I hope your day gets better!"
On day four, myChad bravely took me to the crematorium to make arrangements. I had chosen this particular place because it was close to our home and because I really had no clue as to what I was doing, this being my first time to be responsible for such a thing. The funeral director was as she had been promised: sympathetic, helpful, kind, etc. However, she was also all about business. At one point she was showing me their "deep discounts" on a price sheet, and all I could think was, "Dear Gayla, please don't hate me because I took you to the Wal-mart of crematoriums!" However, the conclusion of our visit was the kicker. Discount Director said, "You're doing really well for your first time. It will be even easier the next time you need our services." DD pointed to my husband at that point and said it could be him next time and she hoped I would return to do business with her. I was stuck between the horrible thought of losing my husband and laughing at someone up-selling funeral services in the midst of the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
I could go on and on. However, let me just give everyone a little hint on what to say when you don't know what to say. Tell the grieving persons you're sorry. If you knew the deceased as well, then tell them how he/she influenced your life. Say how much you loved him/her. Then listen. Also, unless the information is offered, do not ask, "What happened?" or try to press for details. Do not ask this grieving individual to re-live the death of his/her loved one by telling you how it happened. Google is an amazing tool, and it will provide you the details you desire.