Two weeks into quarantine, I recieved a call from my friend telling me that her mother had died. While we knew she was sick and the prognosis was not great, the swiftness of it all was quite a shock. We spent several minutes crying together and wondering out loud at the finality of a beloved life and then reluctantly and a bit awkwardly we hung up.
Heaving dry sobs, I stared at my phone screen and wondered what I could do next. In a pre-COVID world, I would have dropped off food on her doorstep or waited a few days to offer myself up for a hug and a cry. But now, in a time when anything communal was verboten and touching was out of the question, I wasn’t sure how to be there for my friend.
I wondered, how can I be there for someone when I can’t actually be there? How do I reach out at time when I’m being asked to keep my distance?
But, having been the aggrieved myself (my daughter was stillborn in 2016), I took a moment to think about all the ways I know to show up for someone after a loss. There was no need to play by a rule book. There’s no one way to grieve and, in turn, there is no one way to support those who are grieving.
So I did what I do in times of distress–I got out a pen and some paper to write. In processing my feelings on paper, I came up with this list of ways to support someone who is grieving in a time of social distancing.
Send a text or an email.
Drop off a gift card for groceries or take-out.
Send them a card or letter.
Make a donation in their loved one’s memory.
Light a candle for the person they are missing.
Share a favorite memory.
Perform a Random Act of Kindness.
And most importantly…
Keep checking in. They will continue to need your support in the days and months and years to come.
You don’t have to be with someone to let them know you’re there. And this is important to remember because now, more than ever, we need to support those who are grieving.
Even if we can’t be together, no one should grieve alone.