I read a blog post recently about stupid things to say to someone who is grieving. (If you want to know what not to do or say when someone is grieving, that post is a good place to start.) While I’m so thankful that we have still been spared most of these things, I am so thankful for this nugget of wisdom:

Instead of saying, “God wouldn’t give you more than you could handle,” you could say, “Let me come over and do some laundry.”

Some of the best help we have received has been practical help that we didn’t ask for–it just happened. In the earliest days of our grief, it was a miracle if I got out of bed, showered and brushed my teeth all in the same day. There are still days where I am lucky to get through the day and do the bare minimum. Everyday things still seem hard. Cleaning the house, going grocery shopping, and preparing meals, while no longer impossible still take far more effort than they ever did before.

Here are some of the very practical things people have done and have continued to do for us in the wake of losing our sweet Alexander.

Picked up groceries.
While we were still in the hospital, my parents went out and did a full shopping trip for us. They stocked our fridge and pantry with food and household items that we would need when we got home. It was a practical gesture that made coming home just a little bit easier. In the weeks since, we have managed to make it to the store for basic necessities (milk, coke zero, coffee creamer, and alcohol), but we still haven’t had to do a major trip for groceries–though it’s coming soon.

Brought us meals.
One of the first things that was done by our friends after we lost Alexander was setting up a meal train. It was a practical way that members of our church family could provide for us. We didn’t have to prepare a meal for ourselves for weeks after coming home. And, when getting out of bed, brushing teeth, and getting dressed are a major chore, not having to worry about planning dinner makes such a difference. We are so incredibly thankful for every single meal that came into our home during those early weeks, and for the ones that we were able to just toss in the freezer. Because honestly, there are still some days when I don’t have the energy to plan and cook dinner–because just making it through a day in the office took everything I had for the day.

Sent or dropped off gift cards.
This has been an unexpected blessing for us–and one for which we are still grateful. A few weeks after coming home from the hospital, someone anonymously dropped off a couple of gift cards in our mailbox in a blank envelope for dinner and a movie. Family and friends have also sent us gift cards in the mail for a meal out. These gift cards have helped us to go out and feel a little bit of “normal” once we were comfortable with leaving the house. Just last week, a couple more gift cards showed up in our mailbox. Like I said above, there are still days when I don’t have the capacity to plan or cook dinner. On those days, it’s an enormous blessing to be able to grab a gift card and go out for a meal. It’s a blessing to be gifted the opportunity to do something that we wouldn’t otherwise do–like go catch a movie together–because it just isn’t in our budget otherwise. We have been so grateful for these gifts that have provided and continue to provide just a little bit of “normal” in this season of life.

Cut the grass and cleaned the house.
While we were in the hospital, our friend went to our house and cut the grass. He also got rid of some brush that had been sitting on our curb for weeks because the city wouldn’t take it. We didn’t ask–he just did it. My parents and sister and brother-in-law cleaned our whole house while we were in the hospital. They vacuumed, cleaned the bathrooms, washed the sheets and towels, and took care of the dishes that had been left in the sink. When we came home from the hospital, it was an incredible blessing to come home to a clean house. These are the practical “let me come over and do some laundry” things that truly helped us in those earliest days of shock and grief.

Wrote thank you notes.
In the weeks leading up to losing Alexander, we had been blessed with two lovely baby showers. We were given so many wonderful gifts. When we found out that Alexander no longer had a heartbeat on July 5, I had barely started tackling the mountain of thank you notes that I had to write. While we were in the hospital, I had a moment of dread thinking about writing thank you notes for gifts that we wouldn’t even get to use–that Alexander won’t get to use. One of the greatest and most practical things that our friends (my people) did while we were in the hospital was offer to write thank you notes for us. They picked up the list from our house, divided it amongst themselves, and just took care of it. It is one of those things that I will forever and ever be thankful for.

These are a few of the very practical ways that people have been and continue to be burden bearers for us during this time. Things that I am so incredibly thankful for.

Sometimes the most practical way to help carry the burden of someone’s grief is to offer to carry the burdens of day to day life.

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3 thoughts on “Be(ar)ing Burdens: Practical Things.

  1. Erin – you are such an incredibly gifted writer. I’m hoping in some way sharing your personal perspective of what you have been experiencing is helping with your grieving process. I’m convinced you are helping many in ways you may not even realize. Love – Auntie Diane

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