By D. Scott
Dear Auntie: There has been a lot of death recently all around me. I’m running out of things to say or do for family members. We have sent flowers, cards, donated money to help and spent time with the remaining family. Is there anything else we can do? You said death was the new celebrity on a post. I believe that. People coming out of the woodwork to be seen and known. We just want to stay below the radar but make our presence known. These are tough times, especially with Covid.
-Niagara Falls born and raised.
Dear Niagara Falls Born and Raised: These past weeks have been difficult for a lot of families. I received a message today that a 27-year-old father was killed at a corner store. Earlier in the week, two of my family members passed on the same day. Two weeks prior, my cousin’s father passed. That’s not including those we mourn still around this time each year.
You are already doing the right thing. There will be no acknowledgment sometimes. People are in a cloud. People are numb.
In some cultures, people that are mourning cover all mirrors in the home and don’t cook or clean for weeks. They hire someone to assist them. This allows the family to grieve and not have to think about much besides healing. In my culture, we bring food. Typically, the week of a passing is filled with phone calls, cards and flowers. The family collects all cards and sends out thank you notes or text messages of thanks. When the funeral and initial shock is over, these people have to go back to work and be parents or spouses. Bereavement in most jobs is only a few days.
My real job starts once the funeral is over. We call it being a friend. I will cook enough food each week and deliver it. Doesn’t matter what it is. You can sit with them if they allow it. If not, don’t take it personally. You can shovel snow and help them tidy up things that you see haven’t been maintained. Your presence will be felt whether they acknowledge it right away or not. Please don’t force anything. If you have to leave containers of food on the porch and send a text, do it.
What you guys have done so far is sufficient. Continue to do that. Be consistent in your gestures. Do not wait for a thank you. It may never come. Death engulfs everything. If you are close to the remaining family, go sit with them. Listen to them vent, cry or share stories of their loved ones. Bring a case of beer or liquor to sip on while visiting. Even stopping at the grocery store and buying the $5 chicken will be appreciated. Keep doing what you are doing. There is more to death than funerals. People have to carry on in this life without people they loved. I wouldn’t be thinking about food or much else for a while. Hence why food is always appreciated. Your presence is appreciated. Your gestures are appreciated. Keep doing what you’ve been doing. You were raised properly. Memento vivere. (Remember to live)