February is the month we celebrate love. A happy occasion like Valentine’s Day is a reminder and an opportunity to show your loved ones how much you appreciate them. On the flip side, sad occasions are another time when we want to show our love but it’s often difficult to determine the right way to show you care.
In the last year, several of my girlfriends have gone through difficult times. Some of have lost spouses, others have lost parents or siblings. When tragedy strikes the family of a dear friend we want to do everything we can to help but most of us do not have the life experience to know how to be helpful. After speaking to one girlfriend who navigated the death of a spouse firsthand I was able to cultivate a list of ideas for how to help a girlfriend who is grieving the death of a spouse. Many of these ideas are also appropriate when a girlfriend is dealing with the loss of a parent, sibling, or close friend. I hope you never need to use this list but in case you do I hope you’ll find this a useful resource.
10 Ways To Help A Grieving Girlfriend
- Set Up A Go Fund Me. // Immediately after tragedy, and in the case of a grieving spouse, it may help to set up a go fund me (if needed) for funeral expenses which can be upwards of $10k.
- Set Up Dinner And A Movie. // Pay for a meal service to deliver meals to the family. Charge up an Uber eats account and fill up your girlfriend’s Netflix account so she can have dinner and a movie.
- Establish Regular Grocery Deliveries. // Pay for a grocery delivery service. Ask your girlfriend to take a picture of her grocery list and the contents of her refrigerator and set up a recurring order for her.
- Help Support Therapy Sessions. // Pay for therapy for her and the kids (if there are any). Therapy sessions are pricey — they can be upwards of a $175 per hour.
- Arrange For Household Services. // Pay for a cleaning service, lawn service, or handyman service to come to your girlfriend’s house. These are roles a spouse may typically fill in the household. In the months following tragedy the work will have piled up and your girlfriend will be grateful for the help.
- Set Up Monthly Gift Baskets. // Monthly gift baskets remind the survivor that they are loved and supported. Especially around Christmas, birthdays, mother’s day etc. remember that the survivor will no longer receive gifts from her spouse so finding ways to take care of her will be appreciated.
- Stay In Touch Without Expectations. // Remember to check in by phone calls or text with no expectation of a return message. You don’t want to add to her burden but you never know when your check in will come at just the right moment when she needs a friend to talk to. Your girlfriend will never receive another call, text, or email from her spouse. You can’t fill that void but checking in regularly will help her feel supported, cared for, and loved.
- Coordinate A Monthly Visit Among Family/Friends. // On monthly visits you will help her clean her house, get organized, and lend a helping hand in any way. You will also be a set of ears for anything she wants to talk about. A surviving spouse with kids often feels as if she doesn’t have another adult to discuss her ideas with. She might have a million ideas trapped in her head and crave a sounding board to talk them through.
- Support Her In Finding Time Away From Her Kids. // If your girlfriend has kids, she will need time apart from her kids too to recharge and have time to take care of herself. One option is a free camp for kids who have lost a parent or sibling. Experience Camps for grieving children offer free one week camps for children who have lost a significant person in their lives.
- Follow Her Cues For Moving On. // Everyone heals in their own time. Wait for your girlfriend to give cues that she is ready to remove reminders of the deceased from the home and then offer assistance with the effort.
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