My husband and I both had our spouses pass away before we met. While we were dating I asked him to tell me about the things people gave him or did for him when his wife passed away that were meaningful. I noticed that some of the things I really appreciated were completely different than what he did. I loved having my neighbors bring my family dinner. Eating a healthy dinner is super important to me, so this was so helpful and one of my favorite things. Matt’s neighbors also brought him dinner, but it was hard because he was at work, then had to get his kids from their babysitter, then go to their soccer practices- so he didn’t want to have to schedule with someone when to drop off food. He had to beg them to please stop because it was stressing him out because he knew the effort put into making a nice dinner. So one lesson from this is to ask what the new widower would need! Many of the widows I have asked didn’t really love quotes or books because it is very hard to concentrate at this time. Also, remember that grief last for years so you don’t always need to do something right away- even 6 months out or at the year mark a gift or a call would be appreciated.
This is what Matt and other widowers have told me was most useful…
- Gift cards to go out to eat so they could get food on the run.
- Freezer meals.
- A gift basket with paper towels, toilet paper, laundry and dish detergent, paper plates and plastic utensils. New towels is one thing someone told me they loved.
- Teddy bears were left on his porch for each of his kids.
- Someone take his children shopping for clothes- such as socks and underwear.
- A friend take him to dinner or a game and let him just talk (or listen). He will enjoy being with another adult.
- Headphones and music. For times when you just need a break. Audible (Audio books) is another thing I loved.
- Ask if there is some part of their home you could clean or if you could help with laundry. (Some areas they don’t want anyone to touch- Super important to ask!)
- Ask if there are some errands that you could run for him- shopping, dry cleaner, etc.
- One guy’s family planned a dinner every Sunday. This gave him and his kids something to look forward to and a healthy homemade meal once a week.
- They have weighted pillows and blankets now. It’s a comfort to hug that when going to sleep at night.
- Gift card for the movies or a date with the kids- like going to Build-a-bear or dessert.
- Matt’s neighbors bought him a beautiful granite memorial bench for his backyard because his wife loved to be outside.
- A gift for Postmates (available in larger cities) or Amazon Prime or Pantry. They deliver anything to you- groceries, office products, books, treats, stamps- anything so they don’t have to leave their house!
- A friend to call and ask how he is really doing and what you can do for him.
- Plant flowers or plants in his yard.
- At Christmas time ask if he needs help putting up decorations or lights.
- Matt’s work donated trees to be planted in his wife’s name.
- Ask him if you could have a shirt from his wife who has passed away. Make it into a pillow for him and/or the kids.
- Someone left an angel figurine on his doorstep the night his wife passed away. It sits in our family room and is a daily reminder that angels are watching over us- in heaven and on earth!