A grief observed...
September 3, 2004 5:00 PM   Subscribe

SympathyFilter: What's the best way to help my girlfriend deal with the passing of a family member? Difficulty level=other side of the country. [Morbid inside]

Truly sorry about the pun, couldn't help myself.

Anyway, the details: her grandfather's health has been declining for a while, and they've sort of been on standby for this the past couple of months, but I guess he took a sudden turn for the worse yesterday, and got even worse this morning, prompting her to drive home (from college, 2.5 hours away) and he passed away this afternoon just before she got there. So far I sent flowers (to her) right away, before he had actually died, but I'd like to do more. I've heard people say that things like bringing food, giving rides, etc. can be a real help during these situations, but I'm too far for any of that. I've never met the grandfather and have stayed with the family a few times, but am not that close with them yet, so I don't want to overstep my bounds. Should I just be resigned to talking to her on the phone, or are there other things that I can do? Should I send flowers for the funeral as well? Oh, and if anyone has location-specific suggestions, they are in the Philadelphia area.
posted by rorycberger to Human Relations (5 answers total)
Response by poster: P.S. apologies for using Ask.Me so often these days, I'll take next week off, I promise. I just didn't really know where else to turn for advice at the moment.
posted by rorycberger at 5:14 PM on September 3, 2004

if she was really close to him, just being supportive and listening is the best you can do, and letting them grieve with people who knew him.
if she needs a break from the tension and burden and you can afford it, i'd send something personal and comforting, or maybe offering to send an arrangement, maybe more for her as a personal memorial.
there use to be great food porn sites i'd assembled of gourmet premade meals from movies you just put in the oven. but dean and deluca has sets for all occasions.
i suggest the most appropriate one of these
posted by ethylene at 5:28 PM on September 3, 2004

Best answer: Find some small snippet of poetry she might find inspirational, maybe about the next life or whatever, and put it in a little handwritten note for her. omething that isn't so much a material gift as a mental comfort.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:51 PM on September 3, 2004

Ethylene is right. Ask her how you can help. Be there for her. Let her tell you what she needs.

And food is always welcome.
posted by ColdChef at 7:59 PM on September 3, 2004

Patient, kind, warm support is the best thing you can give -- literally and figuratively, provide a shoulder to cry on. (From my own experience, try not to use verbal expressions like "don't cry" or "shhh," even if you mean them in a comforting way -- my boyfriend said that when my grandmother died, and while I knew intellectually he wasn't trying to make me stop expressing how much it hurt, emotionally I found it aggravating to feel like I had to say, "but I want to cry -- I'm incredibly sad!") As for the family, even though you aren't particularly close to them (yet), it would be appropriate (and polite) to at least send a sympathy card.

Also from personal experience, I tend to lose my appetite (or at least my energy to cook or go grocery shopping) when I'm grieving or depressed; if she has a similar response you don't want to nag her, but you may want to make sure she's getting enough nutrition by going out to eat together (or offering to cook for her, if that's a practical possibility) or driving her to the grocery store.
posted by scody at 1:11 AM on September 4, 2004

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