Showing appreciation for a classmate who has passed away?
November 27, 2009 3:44 PM   Subscribe

A classmate of mine has passed away following a horrifying accident, leaving behind a wife and infant daughter. What sort of gesture would it be appropriate for my classmates and I to make, if any, to show our appreciation for this person and to let his family know that we're thinking of them during this difficult time?
posted by killdevil to Human Relations (19 answers total)
 
We are graduate students in a class of about 150, for context.
posted by killdevil at 3:50 PM on November 27, 2009


I think it would be neat to contact as many classmates as possible and have them each write a small memory of your friend. Compile that into a small book, or even just a three ring binder, and present it to wife and daughter. I'm sure the wife will get a kick out of hearing about his younger years. The daughter, I'm sure, will treasure those memories - and be able to get to know her daddy a little better.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by Sassyfras at 3:57 PM on November 27, 2009


Along those lines-- a photo scrapbook of pictures from friends the family doesn't already have would be welcome.
posted by availablelight at 4:00 PM on November 27, 2009


Oh dear. First of all, my sympathies.

Maybe setting up a college fund for your friend's daughter?
posted by typewriter at 4:09 PM on November 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Like Sassyfras and availablelight said I think letters remembering him and the fun times, along with pictures would make an awesome gift.

Could you all maybe come up with a schedule for some of their home maintenance? I don't know if they live in a house or an apartment, but since you're here in Utah, I know that she might need leaves raked and snow shoveled. I know I would appreciate it if someone came and did that for me, my husband takes care of all our yard stuff. It might not be something she's physically able to do herself, and won't be able to afford to pay to have someone do. If you broke it down into 52 weeks, and had everybody sign up for three or four, you'd have at least three people who knew that that week they were responsible for her yard work. Maybe you guys could throw a party and put up her Christmas lights, and then another to take them down.

It's amazing that you have that many people who can help out. If you think about it, there are lots of things that would be totally overwhelming for the widow, but easily manageable for 150 people. It might be nice to break it down and have a few people 'in charge' of her for awhile. Just someone to call and check up on her every few days or once a week. A lot of the condolences will wear off after the funeral, and she's going to have a lot to deal with for a long time.

Another idea could be a gift certificate to the local grocery store. If everyone gave just $1 you'd have a certificate that could feed her and the baby for at least a month.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:28 PM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Building on TFS, a gift certificate for meal delivery service--that they can use when they want, after everyone's attention has drifted--might be great, too.
posted by liketitanic at 4:39 PM on November 27, 2009


Could you all maybe come up with a schedule for some of their home maintenance? I don't know if they live in a house or an apartment, but since you're here in Utah, I know that she might need leaves raked and snow shoveled.

Looking at the article, and the wording of this question, I'm guessing the fellow classmates are at the medical school of the University of Virginia, where the man in question was studying, accompanied by his (pregnant) wife and child--it's the extended family that live in Utah.
posted by availablelight at 4:46 PM on November 27, 2009


how terrible. i'm sorry.

In addition to suggestions already made for the benefit of the family, you could also donate a book in his memory to the school where he was studying and tell them that. (after my father died, his alma mater alumni association donated a book related to his field of study with "in memory of $NAME" to the school library. i thought it was a nice gesture.)
posted by rmd1023 at 5:04 PM on November 27, 2009


Looking at the article, and the wording of this question, I'm guessing the fellow classmates are at the medical school of the University of Virginia, where the man in question was studying, accompanied by his (pregnant) wife and child--it's the extended family that live in Utah.

Yes, that's right.
posted by killdevil at 5:15 PM on November 27, 2009


The suggestion of a college fund for the daughter is really good, unless they're already very financially secure and you don't think it's really necessary. In that case, the suggestion of home maintenance help, or the vouchers for meal delivery would also be very thoughtful.
posted by ishotjr at 5:47 PM on November 27, 2009


Another thought I just had was that setting up a scholarship fund for medical students or for students at his undergraduate alma mater in your classmate's name would also be a very nice gesture. All kinds of people could donate to it and build it up.
posted by ishotjr at 5:49 PM on November 27, 2009


There's another baby on the way, apparently. I, too, recommend grocery store gift cards.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:56 PM on November 27, 2009


She may end up wanting to go home (or stay there, if she's there already) to be with family, so try to make sure that any kind of gift certificate could be used in the other location too.
posted by barnone at 6:13 PM on November 27, 2009


Sorry, I just heard on the news that he was a local guy.

Another idea as far as gift certificates go: American Express gift cards don't have any fees for the user, if you think the wife might need more than groceries that might be a way to go. There is a charge for the person who buys the card. Visa has a similar card, but from what I understand there is a monthly charge if the card goes unused. Both may be used anywhere that a credit card can, so that might give the wife a needed boost. She could even use it to pay bills.
(Disclaimer: Mr. Shoes works at an AMEX call center.)
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:32 PM on November 27, 2009


If she decides to move back to Utah with the children, can you organize some sort of help with that? Many hands make light work....I've been part of a crew of 12 that packed up and moved an entire apartment in 4 hours when a friend's mother died suddenly and he couldn't bring himself to get it done.
posted by availablelight at 6:49 PM on November 27, 2009


In addition to the many good ideas here, may I suggest that you and other classmates remember to drop-by/bring-something/check-in-&-ask-what's-needed/touch-base with the widow some months from now -- everything happens early on, but then there is often a long lonely stretch where the bereaved feel (and in some ways, are) forgotten. Not less important if she moves out of area, so make sure someone has her contact info.
posted by Bet Glenn at 6:49 PM on November 27, 2009


Everything suggested here is good.

I would recommend, though, that longterm a list of resources is maintained that can quietly be tapped if needed. For example, there are many organizations and websites on the loss of a spouse. There is even a national conference on widowhood through The Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation. Maybe three or four years from now, this is something she'll want or need to know about. There's also the . If the family could use financial assistance, submitting an application a few months from now may not be a bad plan, but it may take someone else who is aware of the option to bring it to light. Matt Logelin's blog has been posted a bunch here --- he started this foundation after facing a similar loss.

I further recommend remembering next year. Sending a card to let the family know you're thinking of them again would probably be a welcomed gesture. The anniversary of a death such as this can be exceptionally hard, and it can be even harder if it feels as though everyone else forgot.
posted by zizzle at 7:19 PM on November 27, 2009


Hmm....link didn't work....it was to the Liz Logelin Foundation's website:

http://thelizlogelinfoundation.org/
posted by zizzle at 7:20 PM on November 27, 2009


The infant daughter will never get to know him. Ask people to write up personal remembrances, and collect them in a book or art box, along with pictures, and any work by him. Someday, she'll be incredibly grateful to have a connection. College money is a good gift. When someone died, a thoughtful notecard, and attendance at the ceremonies is meaningful. I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by theora55 at 8:25 PM on November 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


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