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Dear Friends Husband Died How Do I Help?

I have a dear friend whose husband was killed in a motorcycle accident this past weekend and i don't know what to do to help. Our boys are good friends but it has been a few months since we have done anything together so I don't know how to offer help or if I should call or just attend the funeral. I am at a complete loss of how to help at this time. She is now a widow at 25 with boys that are 4 and 2 and another baby on the way, I just need some advice of what to do to let her know I care! Thanks for your help.

What can I do next?

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Just be there, today,tomorrow,next week, next month, and next year. Everybody hovers the first couple of weeks but then they move on with their lives and forget that the little things are really hard, Fathers day, 4th of July, kids birthday.
Good luck.
J.

Maybe you can offer to come over and help her around the house, take her and the kids out for pizza, or just drop off some goodies?

Offer to watch her kids so she can get all the arrangements taken care of, and any other time she might need. Let her know that you are there for her when she's ready to talk, but don't push her to talk. Be a shoulder to cry on. And I think it's never wrong to ask her what help she needs.

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Hi A.-

Two additional comments from friends who lost spouses recently. The first did not need food for the first few weeks because that's when everyone came by. She really saw a need after the first month. I set up an account at a prepared meals company so that she could just pick out food and they would deliver it to her. It really helped. Another friend, despite all the lasagnas, cakes, and other foods that were brought, just wanted soup. I brought her soup and it was the one thing she ate that week. The other suggestions are all great--including offering to take her kids for some outings. Good for you for being there. All the best.

Just knock on the door and give her a hug....to start. When I was 16 I lost my high school boyfriend in a motorcycle accident. I know I can't imagine what it must be like to lose your husband and father to 3 children that way, but I do know what the shock feels like. I may have only been 16, but no one is too old or too young to feel the full impact of an accident like that. And that's just it....it's an accident, not something that anyone can predict, explain or expect. She is probably feeling a torrent of emotions right now. Even if you haven't seen her in awhile, you are still her friend. Don't try to give her advice, don't try to tell her it will all be ok, just let her cry or yell or scream or whatever it is she needs to do. When the time comes that she is ready to start talking about him, smiling about things that happened or joking about something he might have said you might be able to add to that laughter with memories of your own. Also, her children are young and probably don't understand what is happening. Even an hour playing with other children might bring back some normalcy to them and keep your friend from feeling any guilt over not being able to give them their normal routines right now. Good luck and your friend is in my prayers.

I am so sorry to hear that. Home cooked meals are the best. When my fiance died, I didn't even get up off the couch for two weeks. I didn't have kids then either. Anything to help with household was helpful for me. People walked my dogs and cleaned my house. That was such a blessing.

A.,
I am so sorry for your friend's loss. This truly will be a trying time for her and her children. I have a dear friend who walked this path 18 months ago. She has a blog where she has journaled her journey. I would highly recommend that you read it and direct it to her in a few weeks. Many widows have contacted my friend, Heather, who is able to bless them so much. I just held a ladies' tea yesterday where Heather was one of my speakers. Here's the blog address, which will take you to the month of her husband's death: http://lazydranch8.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html
For practical things, you can be there for you. Heather shared that 2 women put a hedge around her to guard her from the stupid things well-intentioned people say (like, "I know how you feel, my dog died."). These women would just show up at her house and bring her a drink from Starbucks. Or, they would ask her what she had to do (SS Admin paperwork appts, etc), and then tell her that they were taking her to the appt. She needs someone with her for these things. Heather said she always felt like she didn't need someone to be with her until she was actually there. Then, she'd break down in grief and was so thankful to have someone there. The ladies who ministered to her in these ways were not necessarily her "best friends" before he died, but they have become so now. I say that so that you don't feel like you can't go to her with these ideas because you haven't talked to her in awhile. Be there, pray for and with her, bring her treats out of the blue, bring her dinner. Heather also said the dinner hour was the toughest of the entire day because he wasn't going to be there for the normal nightly routine with the kids. Anyway, I hope this helps you to minister to your friend.
Blessings,
T.

A.- Be there. Take her a simple meal to pop in the oven and just be there for her. If she isn't wanting company she will tell you.
Ring the door bell and just say hello and give her a hug. Maybe offer to take her children for a few hours to a park...people in trama rarely remember what others said or did, but they remember who was there.
God Bless!
H.

I lost a husband at 28 with a 2 year old son to raise. It was harrowing. This woman is younger with two young ones and one on the way! She will be completely numb for a long time. So it will seem that she is doing alright but she is not. First, most people don't know what to do or are afraid to get involved. The latter is a real concern because you are entering a person's life when they will be the most needy. Decide what you can do from a time and commitment standpoint. Then take those two younger boys as often as is ok for you and your family. Take them around a mealtime so she does not have to worry about this herself. She needs time to think, process, and grieve. Joan Didon just wrote a book (name escapes me now) on losing her husband. She is older and was able to spend a lifetime with this man but the process is the same. It was very healing for me 28 years after my loss. When your friend is ready, she might look into the many grief groups that congregate all over this country. We do not like to let people grieve or be weak in this country. She needs to go somewhere where the others are like her. And what a kind friend you are to want to help. Remember, once again, do what works for you and no more. It does not do you or her any good to feel resentful (not that you would but you have your own obligations) for a good deed. Maybe you could arrange with other friends to spread this around so it does not all fall on you. I wish for the days when a tribe of women would step up and help one another through tough times. The very best to you, A. S!

My advice would be to just go there. Offer to take the kids for an hour, do the dishes, wash some clothes, etc. Don't go to visit so much as to do the little things that keeping a house require. Many people will just attend the funeral, she needs many hands to help maintain right now.

This is going to be a very hard time for her. I became a widow at age 20 with a 2 and a half year old daughter and a 8 day old son. Their dad was also killed in a car accident. There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself for something like this. The best thing anyone did for me was to be there for me when every thing was over and every body went on with their normal lives. Be sure to go to the funeral to show your support and let her know you are available to help in any way possible that includes baby sitting when she feels over whelmed or if she just needs someone to listen while she talks.
Also a good way to help would be to offer to take her kids for the day, let them play with your kids, this way she wont feel like she is just handing them over because she can't handle them along with everything that is going on. As i am sure you know, moms think they can handle every thing even in situations like this.
Just remember every body deals with this differently, I quit my job, didn't go out anywhere with any of my friends and just took care of my kids. In essence, I really just stopped living. Make sure you are there for her on the day she decides she wants to live again.
I know this probably doesn't help a ton but I think those are the most important things. Be there when everyone has forgot how much she is hurting. The pain last longer than anyone will ever know. My husband will be gone four years on the 26th of this month and there are still days that I just need to talk to someone about him.
Make the suggestion that she takes the kids to family counsiling also, this helped my daughter with questions she had, even as young as two they still have questions and some times its easier for them to ask someone that isn't hurting as much as they are.
I hope this helps even a little. Your friend is in my prayers. let her know if she needs to talk or if you have any more questions my e mail is ____@____.com you can e mail me anytime about anything.
M.

A.,

Anything you can do to help would help her. Definitely call, if you go to voicemail, leave her a short message. Definitely go to the funeral. But don't let your service and care stop there. Bring her a meal in a week or two, come by and help her with the day to day things. I've never lost a husband, but I do have a friend who lost hers in their very first year of marriage and they were expecting their first child. Do what your heart leads you to do. Send that card, make that call, make that extra salad and take it over. Cry with her, remember with her...

All that.
V.
PS You'll do great. Just be her friend, the friend that you are.

Hi A.,

I would recommend calling her. These are the kind of situations that most people are so uncomfortable with that they shy away....though it is the time that seh will need her friends the most. In the very least birng her a few dinners that she and her kids might like - she will need all the basic care you can give her. Show her that you are there and that you care!

I send my prayers to her and her children....and everyone else her husband touched the lives of. This is something beyond my imagination as a mom and a wife myself.

LOVE!

G. Reid
Motherhood Transitions
www.motherhoodtransitions.com

Offer to pay for a doula for her for when she delivers. A doula will provide emotional support for her during labor and delivery and will even attend prenatal appointments with her if she needs them too.

T.

Maybe you can offer to come over and help her around the house, take her and the kids out for pizza, or just drop off some goodies?

You absolutely need to call right away and offer help. Everyone deals with these things differently and she may or may not be receptive but close or distant friends need to be there in such difficult times. Maybe you can cook for her, take her kids for a hours here and there so she can get things in order or just drop off some flowers. Whatever! Just make yourself available. Good luck to you friend this is a seriously hard situation.

I have volunteered as a victim advocate in the past, and here is some of the best advice I learned in that role:

Never say, "I know just how you feel" or "I totally understand" or anything like that, because the truth is, you DON'T know how just how that person feels, because you are not them; sometimes people get really upset when you in your normal happy life presume to know just how they feel when they are falling apart. Instead, say something like, "I can imagine that would be..." or "If it were me, I think I would feel..."

Be there. Be there, be there, be there, and don't stop. Grief has a timeline different for each person. 6 months down the road, when other friends have left the experience behind, or feel uncomfortable bringing up the death, ask your friend how she is doing, what she needs, or just give her an opportunity to talk about something that other people shy away from. Be there.

Ask your friend what she needs. She may not know right now, but she will think of the offer later and will think of you when she does need something. Sometimes we try to offer what we think the person needs, which is nice of us, but not very helpful for them. Ask her. Drop a card in the mail, call her, or stop by to remind her that you are available to help. Remember that after the funeral, there are still so many "business" items to take care of, including cleaning out his office/going through his work stuff; cleaning out his closet; taking care of car leases, mortgages, loans, utility bills, etc. that are in his name; changing her beneficiaries on any life insurance or pension plans.... She doesn't have to do all of these things right away, but they will be needing attention, and all will be painful reminders for her. Be there to offer help or just support.

Those are the main things I can think of now. And, just follow your heart for being a good friend. If your kids are friends, maybe you can set up a get together for all of you, although I would just let your friend and her kids set the tone, rather than forcing cheerfulness that will make them uncomfortable. It might be nice just to have company around to help and/or distract them for awhile.

Good job, friend.
S.

Organize a community/neighborhood support group to help with; mowing the lawn, taking kids to whatever school/sports events (only trusted family/friends for this!), have a fund raiser to help her pay some of the normal and unexpected bills. The most difficult time for her will be several months down the road when all the 'help' and phone calls stop and life gets back to a 'normal' routine. Maybe one friend can call her on Monday, another on Wednesday etc. Does she keep a journal, if so, purchase a special one for her to write in.
Hospice organizations have bereavement programs, call one in your area (check yellow pages in phone book/or internet)and offer to take her.
It's going to be a long and difficult road for her ~ be patient and a sense of humor can always make the road lighter.
Blessings, to you all

TWO RESOURCES IN DENVER:
www.heartlightcenter.org and www.childgrief.org

S.

A., it doesn't matter that you two haven't done anything for a few months. She is still your friend and she needs you. Go to her if you can, or if you can't, call her. If you can take care of her children when she needs it (I notice that you're due pretty soon, so I don't know if it's an option with you) that might help. Food might help. Or just be there! Sudden death is such a shock that it's easy to feel paralyzed and wonder what to do. Just do what a friend would do. Think what you would need from a friend if it had been your husband. I hope she has family to be there for her; if she has relatives coming in, she will need help now, and after they're gone she will need YOU.

My advice is to let the family know you are thinking of them. I think she'll appreciate your gesture, no matter what it is, or how clumsy you may feel. Let her know you still think of them. Maybe offer to do something with the boys, or invite her for coffee in the coming weeks. I would definitely trust your instincts and reach out, though. Another thing to do would be to prepare a meal and just bring it over - that would very likely be appreciated. A lot of support tends to drop off after the first weeks or months after a person dies, but the pain does not. She may really appreciate the support, and it doesn't matter that you haven't been close before this tragedy.

My best friend here died of a rare form of liver cancer last month. For the year that she was sick, a network of friends and family came together and brought meals and did other things to help her family. We used a free web site to coordinate this (through national alliance for caregiving). Although this help was essential while she was sick, something like that could also be used to organize help for your friend's wife, if she needs it. You can see the site at http://nac.lotsahelpinghands.com if you like.

sk

If you have a little extra money, send a maid service once, or now and again. You seem too busy w/littles ones to do things for her, like cooking and yardwork. Perhaps you could spend time together, which would be good for the children. The mom will be pretty zoned out for quite a while.

Ask if there's anything she's terrible at that her husband always did: paying bills, mowing, etc., and see if you can find someone to do these things for her.

At church, we all do these things for people. If she's involved with a church, or if you are, I'm sure lots of people would step in to help, especially on the manly household tasks.

I'm guesssing there's no life insurance, which means she'll need to get a job and maybe live with parents. She's going to have to think thru all the possibilities (Who can I live with? Which relatives can care for my children while I work?) Let her know that you're ready to help think that through.

Dear A.,
Bless your heart. I am so sorry for your friend's loss. Even though it has been a few months since you talked to your friend, I think it would be a fantastic idea to remind her right now that you love her and will do anything to help her. She may need you to take her children for a few hours so she can have some time alone, or maybe just a phone call or a card just reminding her that you love her and are there for her.
God bless,
J.

She's not going to worry about how long it's been since you talked last. Call her, ask her when she needs you to come help with housework. Not if, but when. She may not even realize she's got toilets, much less that they need extra cleaning with all of the guests she'll have in the next several weeks. Take grocery store gift card/certificates or fast food gift cards-she'll probably have a lot of food that others have brought & the card can be easily tucked in her purse for a day when she just can't figure out what to make.
I've never been in your situation, but when my best friend is having a sad day, I take her the biggest size of her favorite drink & a big hug. That won't fix your friend's problems but just knowing you cared enough to stop by w/a little something for her will be appreciated, even if she's not able to show it. And don't forget her kids-how about a popsicle apiece, something that you don't buy often for your own kids-in our house that's push pops, & take the wipes to clean them back up again for her.
My heart goes out to her & she & her babies are in my prayers!
Don't forget to send a sympathy card too. And if you need ideas for where to start helping-she's got little ones, she'll need laundry done, beds changed & made, tiny kid rooms cleaned. Just don't stress yourself out too much with your own baby on the way.
When my Grandpa died, their 14 kids took turns going & staying with my Grandma & calling. Everyone has a set day to call-and they still do though Grandpa has been gone 18 mos now-and even the DC area uncle goes to the midwest to see her once every couple of months. Your friend will need her friends the most after everyone has moved on with their lives so set an alarm on your phone, put smiley stickers on your calendar on random days to remind you to call her or send a postcard, or offer to hire the babysitter so you two can treat yourselves to a couple of hours out. Holidays will be the worst. When it gets closer to holidays-his birthday, Christmas, their anniversary, any holiday they really celebrated-offer for her & the kids to come hang out. It's okay if she decides not to, but make sure you put the offer out there (if you're serious). And if you can swing it, send her flowers when you know her anniversary is coming up, or when it's close to his birthday. Maybe not on the date, but a day or two before so she knows she's being thought of.
The fact that you're concerned says that you're a good friend. Why not go tell her that you don't know what to say, but that you wanted her to know you're there for her.

Call, go over to see her, go to the funeral any help and support would be appreciated no matter how long it's been since she seen you last. Don't just offer once, call after a few weeks and offer again (after all the initial help has faded out). Be specific when you offer, hey can I come take the kids for a while or hey want me to come over and bring some lunch and we can talk; can I help you get groceries or vaccume your rug, etc. Make it as easy as possible for her to accept your help.

Ready made meals to put in the freezer are wonderful, but check in with your friend to make sure that she does not have more than she can handle at one time. My Sis in Law's hubby just comitted suicide and she has two young (4yrs &5yrs) children. We took some brand new board games, one for each child, when we went to visit. The new toys were a great distraction for them. My son(4yrs)gave the toys to them and it gave him a way to help too. Taking the kids out is a great idea too, but just make sure your friend is ok with them being gone. She may not be ready for that yet. One of the most important things is to keep in touch, she will probably have lots of comfort & food right now, but things really drop off after a few weeks and the pain will still be there. Be there to support her, but let her deal however she needs to. You cannot take this pain away and it is her only link left to her hubby, so she will not want you to anyways. Just be her friend and if you do not know what to say, just sit with her or wash dishes or do laundry... anything helps. When my brother died, one great thing that a friend did for us was to look through their old pictures for photos of him and bring them to us a few months later. He even took one of the really good ones and blew it up and framed it. It was sad, happy and wonderful to see old memories come back to life again. We also used a journal instead of a sign in book and everyone wrote in it...some wrote a poem, some wrote a memory and some just signed it, but it is truly touching to go back and see what people said about him. Plus it might be something that the kids will really appreciate when they get older and want to know what their dad was like.

On a side note, some people clean house and remove anything that reminds them of the deceased immediately to help deal with the pain. If this happens I would suggest that you set aside(with or without consulting her) a few sentimental items for her and the kids to give to her at a later (less painful) time. You might even keep them at your house until she is ready for them. She may not think it matters now, but she will most likely appreciate it in the future and I know the kids will.
My brother was killed over 15yrs ago and I still slip on his shirt when I am feeling sentimental.

Good Luck

Holly had some great ideas. I like hers better, but I thought of offering to clean the house for her sometime. How sweet of you to be so concerned. Go be there for her. :)

Just be there, today,tomorrow,next week, next month, and next year. Everybody hovers the first couple of weeks but then they move on with their lives and forget that the little things are really hard, Fathers day, 4th of July, kids birthday.
Good luck.
J.

HI, well a good thing to start with is to call and let her know you are thinking about her. She has a lot to deal with so maybe you can also help by taking the children for a couple of hours. also she maynot be eating correctly you could make a few simple things and take them over to her. thje best thing you can do though is to just be there for her and let her know she is not alone people do care. you will both be in my thoughts.

Bring over a meal and see if she wants to talk and just sit and listen and hug her lots and let her know you'll be there for the kids too.

Offer to watch her kids so she can get all the arrangements taken care of, and any other time she might need. Let her know that you are there for her when she's ready to talk, but don't push her to talk. Be a shoulder to cry on. And I think it's never wrong to ask her what help she needs.

Whatever you do, don't avoid her. A lot of people will let their discomfort with the situation keep them from approaching her, but that's the worst thing to do. It's hard when you experience a loss like that and you look around and see other people's lives going on as normal and you wonder how the world doesn't just stop because your world just did. To have someone pause and acknowledge her world will be invaluable to her. Anytime you can stop by, or call, and if you don't know what to say, say that, it doesn't matter, just tell her you are thinking about her. Don't assume she has enough support...a lot of people back off because they don't know what to do or say, so every kind thought and gesture will be helpful to her.

Dear A., It is simple don't say I will be praying for you go over to her house and pick up the vacuum and clean, or take over food to eat not just once but several times, it does not have to be a full course meal. Just a plate of brownies, a casserole a veggie, chips and dip. If you do nothing but attend the funeral I am quite sure you will be dissapointed in yourself later. The old addage actions speak louder than words is so true. Two years ago I lost a family member and I actually, got sick and tired of friends that said, I stayed up all night and prayed for you and your family. Very kind indeed but, pick up a broom or clean the bathroom; I think Jesus would. The smallest kindness would be huge right now. If you are standing in her liv.room dusting it will make it easier for her to say, can you help me with the kids today I don't have anyone else, they are all home praying for me..... GL K. K.

Hey A.,

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend. You've got some GREAT suggestions here.

My spouse suffered a traumatic event with significant loss (right before we met). Many friends expected after a month or so that it would be all better. When it wasn't; we got a lot of flack...like a certain amount of grieving time has passed, now it's time to get back to living. While that's true to some extent, grieving is different for everyone, it may take her by surprise...she thinks she's fine and she might see something, smell something, and it's all back...immediately. Make sure the support lasts through the year, not just the month. The people in our lives who were still hanging around 6 months later through all the sadness, anger, etc. are the friends we still have today.

Make sure you get HER out of the house too. Give her a couple weeks to delve into that dark sadness, but then get her out doing things.

Find out if the kid's dad had any super close friends that would take the kids out to do stuff (a surrogate dad so to speak.) Recruit these friends to help around the house, it will be nice for your friend to see these familiar faces. It will help keep her husband close and remind her that these people love their family and she has someone to count on. Maybe talk to these people and explain what the commitment means...that they will always be a part of the kid's lives, that they are doing it for their dear friend. I'll bet you get a lot of takers.

It's so hard to be there for someone when you just don't know what to do. Good luck.

Hello Aylssa!

I think it would be great if you could organize dinners for her from her and/or your neighborhood for an extended period of time. That way she will continue to have food, but you won't be constantly cooking, and all the food won't show up in a couple of days when she has no way to store it all. If you or she attends a church, they generally do wonderful job at providing in a situation like this. Even our neighborhood cooked for someone they had no idea who they were, but knew the family was in a bad situation. I did the delivering, but they all cooked. I like to think that people will come through when others are genuinely in need.

Secondly, maybe you could volunteer your husband's services to do the outside work for her for the summer. The mowing still needs to get done and if it isn't, it will be a reminder that there is no one now to do it for the family.

The worst part of a situation like this is that help is available for her right away, but then people get busy with their own lives and forget that 1 month later, she still needs help, so extended help (lawn care, food, cleaning) are huge for her.

I didn't have a chance to read all the other responses, but the ones I did read about cleaning the house are great. She probably won't ask you to, but cleaning and doing laundry would be huge for her.

And finally, give her some time alone. Take the kids for a while, maybe even over night a couple of times.

Hopefully she has family in town to help....My heart aches for her. I can't imagine the grief coupled with single motherhood.

If you want, you can contact me about basic location of her family and I will see if I can help bring food too.

Your dilemma is common among friends and relatives of those who have had such a terrible loss. Just go to her - tell her you love her and you don't know what to do to help her. It will allow her to ask if she needs something specific or to just talk or cry. Knowing you love her will be the greatest help!

Don't ask. Just do.

She'll never tell you what she could use help with if you just say "Well, let me know if there's anything I can do for you."

If you're visiting her and see something that needs to be done, just do it: take the trash out, fold a load of laundry, do some dishes.

Call her and offer to take her boys for the afternoon. It's all really fresh right now and probably lots of people are trying to help her. But once the funeral is over and the reality of living life as a young widow begins to set in is when she'll really need the help. So revisit this thought again in a month, and the month after that.

A.,
Offer to assist with the laundry. This might be the most challenging task for your young friend. Since this was so sudden, chances are that there are piles of his dirty clothes to be washed. Also take the time to simply listen to what she wants to share. Trust that whatever comes to your mind to talk about will be perfect.
Don't worry that you haven't seen each other for a couple of months. If you are willing to spend time with her, you will be most welcome.
With my whole heart, C.

My bosses niece's husband died from a motorcycle accident and she was 22 with one 2 year old and one month old. My boss and I were talking and she said that her neice was thankful and also found comfort to have people around her who cared and also helped out when her husband passed away. My condolences to your friend. Maybe you could either call her or go over to house and offer to help out and let her know that you are there for her and if she needs you, all she has to do is call on you. My prayers go out for her and her kids.

I follow a blog written by a woman who lost her 1 year old daughter. She has a way with words, and she wrote a post about how to treat a friend who has suffered a loss. Check it out if you want to hear from someone who knows:
http://adailyscoop.blogspot.com/2008/07/how-to-treat-frie...

the best thing is to just be there. in any way she needs you to be. she must be in shock right now, so any help you can manage with, house cleaning, go grocery shopping for her, a shoulder to cry, anything.. most important call her, as the sympathy and concern is ALWAYS welcome!

I feel so sorry for her. Be there for her! That will be the best thing you can do. (Fix her meals, babysit the kids, clean her house, do laundry for her) When people look at me and say, "You look so tired!" I just tell them that it is stress. Then they tell me that life is stressful and I will get over it. That is not what I want to here. I want someone to be there and listen. Your friend needs time to grieve. She can stay in bed if that helps but you can watch her kids. Be strong for her but if you cry together than that will work. I was very close to my grandfather and kept some of his clothes and that was very special for me. Little things mean bunches!

I would agree, just show up, and don't ask what can I do to help. she won't know. instead jump in, maybe take in a meal and the paper plates/cups etc that are going to make clean up easy at this time. do dishes for her, get the kids out together to go do something. if she has parents around, tell them I am here to help however I can, clean toilets anything. And then ask where cleaning supplies are. it's so hard to ask for help especially when we are hurting inside and don't even know where to begin with what we need. take her some bubble salts. right now she is going to be learning to care for herself and her kids in the wake of what is going on. When my grandparents died withing 3 weeks of each other and my mom went in to surgery one of her good friends just came over to the house and cleaned. it's the fondest memory my mom has of that traumatic time. and I remember it well too. One I hated that she made me do work in the house (lol but it was good for me to be busy) and two She didn't ask what can I do, she just stepped in saw what was needed and took care of it. we had meals all week. she either brought them in or found people who would, and not just dinner either. if dinners are arranged maybe take in lunch. and make sure anyone helping her at her home has your number to call for the kids to come over or anything at all.
good luck, it's hard to know what to do but too often I think we get caught up in not knowing what to do we don't just go and do.
**on a personal note, I lost a baby and was then on bed rest when I was pregnant. My best "help" during that time were two neighbors one who just came over and cleaned my house and the other who came and got all the dirty clothes in the house, took them home washed them folded them and brought them back. it was such a relief to me. I wouldn't have thought to ask for that help but was so grateful it was there. different situation but I think that kind of help would really be in order.

Please don't stay away. There will be pleanty of people who'll "avoid" her without meaning to because they don't know what to do or say.

Go over to her house, look her in the eye, tell her you don't know what to do or say, but that you love her.

If you can be devoted:

Call her and tell her you're thinking about her 2-3 times a week.

Visit once a week to SEE how she's doing. Listen, and LOOK around. She's going to be completely overwhelmed and not know where to start. Something will have to fall through the cracks because there's no more back-up from daddy. Help tidy the front room, help start dinner, help her figure out a new budget, offer to take her to places that may be difficult, see that she's eating, see that she doesn't cacoon herself too long, see that her laundry is making it to the washer...you know, LOOK around and simply start in and aiding because we generally don't ask for what we need.

A very important thing is to NOT offer something you cannot be committed to 10000000000 percent in an inconvenient time...and longer out than 2-3 weeks. Often people offer things that they mean at the moment but are not committed to, so when the time does come that the person in need brings themselves to the phone and musters the courage to ask, the reception of this opportunity to serve is less than generous.

Be sure you honor where she is at any given moment.

Hugging, holding, sitting near by are good things.

Allow her to see your sadness about her situation and the loss of her husband. "I'm so sorry" is a good thing, a normal thing to say...followed by, "I don't know what to say" is appropriate. "How are you doing" is something people say a lot, but, really, what's answer supposed to be?

In a few weeks, allow her to be her normal self and share concerns and frustrations of your own life...just like you would have before--so don't over share or undershare...be normal so she can, too.

The key here is to plainly and committedly BE HER FRIEND. Come from your heart and it'll be difficult to stumble much.

OH, I almost forgot: Encourage her to take her time in clearing out hubby's items. Some may want to come take everything out to remove reminders thinking it will help heal and motive her to move on...this can be DANGEROUS and very upsetting!! Give her validation in her right to keep anything of his for as long as she wants. Removing things can be very, very emotional or move quite quickly with a rebound of emotion later...so it's best taken at her pace. Mothers, brothers, sisters, etc...may want tokens from her Hubby, she may need some help with that so you could go visit and after a long visit you can gently ask her if there's something she's planning to share with his Mom and reaffirm that she has all the time in the world to do so but that it'd be nice...and then quickly redirect conversation unless she's into the subject with interest.

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