10 Ways to Support a Loved One If You Cannot Attend the Funeral

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When someone passes away, emotions can get the best of the survivors. And it’s even more difficult if, for any reason, close friends and family are unable to attend the funeral.

That’s why it’s important to find ways to support the people you care about when they’re grieving. Here are some things you can do:

1. Phone Call

Reach out with a phone call. After someone loses a person they care about, sometimes they just need to talk. Be a good listener and avoid trying to make sense of the person’s death. 

Take a cue from the person and let her lead the conversation. She might want to share some personal experiences, or she might just want to express her sadness. Simply being on the other end of the line can provide her quite a bit of comfort.

2. Sympathy Card

Send a card with a personalized sympathy message. If you’re not able to be there in person to deliver the message, a well-thought-out note with your condolences can provide some much-needed comfort. You can use a blank card or one with a preprinted message as long as you include a personal message.

3. Flowers

Send flowers. A pretty bouquet can show that you’re thinking about her during her time of grief. Be sure to include a sympathy note.

It helps if you know what types and colors of flowers she likes. However, there are certain flowers that have symbolism attached, so if you’re not sure what to pick, find one that represents your thoughts.

4. Live Plant

Send a live plant or tree. Choose a plant or tree that can be transplanted in honor of the deceased. A pretty flowering plant offers hope and some cheer every year when it blooms.

A small oak or maple can grow into a comforting shade tree in a few years. Of course, this is only good if the person lives in a home where a tree can be planted. If she is in an apartment, condo, or rental house, a potted plant is probably better.

5. Funding Assistance

If the person was left in a financially bad situation from the loved one’s death, she’ll appreciate some extra funding. You can set up an account at a variety of places that allow people to donate to a fund.

When setting up a fund for the survivors, it’s best to state a specific need. For example, if the deceased didn’t have life insurance, a burial fund will help. Other types of funds can be scholarships for the children or a donation to the person’s favorite charity.

6. Virtual Memorial Service

Participate in an online memorial service. This can be as simple as a page for friends and family members to post their condolences. Or it can be more involved with a live feed through Zoom, Skype, Google, or even a private YouTube channel. Consult with the person officiating the service or the religious institution for guidance and advice.

7. Slide Show and Photos

Put together a slide show with positive memories of the person who passed. Ask other people who may have had photos of the deceased to send them to you. Once you have enough, put them together in a slide show with appropriate music that can be anything from the favorite songs of the deceased to solemn hymns that provide comfort. You can post this on a variety of social media and make it available to those who knew the deceased.

8. Keep in Touch

Stay in contact with the person. So many people may show support immediately after the person has passed. However, as their lives get busy, they may forget that the person is still grieving. 

9. Offer Assistance

Although there may be some things you are unable to do, ask if there is anything that you can help with to make things easier for the person who is grieving. Some of these things may be calling others to let them know of the person’s passing, shopping for groceries, or mowing the lawn of the loved one. Your simple act of kindness can make the grief less painful.

10. Bring Cheer

Immediately after the loved one passes away, it’s not a good idea to try to cheer up the survivors. However, after time passes, you may want to do things to bring a little joy to the person. 

Send a gift basket filled with items you know the person would enjoy. For coffee lovers, consider mugs and different flavors of coffee. You may also choose gift cards that you know the person will enjoy.

When You Can't Be There, Do the Next Best Thing

When you can’t attend the person’s funeral, for whatever reason, you can still show that you care. Having your emotional support will help the loved ones get through this difficult time.