Navigating the loss of an acquaintance like a neighbor is tough. Regardless of whether you spoke frequently or would merely wave in passing though, reaching out to the widowed spouse during a time like this is vitally important to show you care. However, you may find yourself asking questions like “what should I do?” and “how do I help?”
As friendly neighbors who recently found ourselves asking these very same questions when a neighbor of ours lost her husband, we have compiled a list of ideas and tips on what to do and how to help when you are faced with the sad loss of a neighbor.
Ideas for Immediately Following the News of a Neighbor Who Has Passed
1. Hand deliver a sympathy card
Write out a sympathy card with your condolences (you can find ideas from FTD by design HERE) and don’t forget your contact information! Also, do not stay unless invited, and do not overstay your welcome if you are.
2. Give A Plant
Flower arrangements are great and are beautiful sentiments, but house plants or potted plants that will last are much nicer.
3. Send Food
A food dish like a casserole, think lasagna or some baked penne, or a side dish or appetizer would be great for your neighbor and for feeding visitors. Most importantly though, make it something that can easily be warmed up or frozen for later.
4. Snack Platters or Displays
Snack platters or displays like fruit, cheese and crackers, veggies, lunch meat and rolls, etc. make things easy for the widow and their family to grab and go or simply just nibble. Fruit displays like this one from EdibleArrangements.com not only make for a tasty snack, but also a beautiful table piece.
5. Send Sweets
Cookies, sweet breads, muffins, bundt cakes, or any type of simple desserts are very comforting. Try mini bundt cakes like these from NothingBundtCakes.com or any packaged dessert from your local grocery store bakery is just as sweet!
6. Provide Drinks
If you don’t cook or bake, that is not a problem! With all of the visitors your neighbor is bound to have, cases of water, soda or any type of drinks are always appreciated. While drinks like these that they can save for later are great, you may also want to send coffee or tea like these perfect coffee travelers from Starbucks.com.
7. Seed Packets or Favors
When an unexpected death occurs, it’s hard to think of everything (or anything at all sometimes). Providing your neighbor with seed packets or some type of favor or memento for them to cherish and pass out to their visitors is extremely thoughtful. They can even include them in thank you notes too! You can find our assortment of personalized memorial seed packets HERE.
8. Make Cleanup Easier
One of the least thought of, but definitely important ideas are paper and plastic goods like plates, cups, napkins and utensils. These items are great and create one less worry for your neighbor when it comes to washing dishes and keeping things tidy.
9. Gift Baskets or Treats
Gift baskets of nuts, snacks, teas, etc. are great to share or save for later. Like this gift basket from gourmetgiftbaskets.com. Or even boxed chocolates or a bottle of wine are great too!
10. Include a Gift Card for Food
Gift cards for food, especially delivery type food, or even food delivery services are a perfect lasting gift for when the visitors slow or cease but cooking still isn’t a priority. Slip it in your sympathy card or attach it to another gift to make things even more special!
While passing along your condolences and care immediately following the news of your neighbor’s passing is imperative, checking in on their husband or wife and keeping up with them in the weeks and months following, after their visitors have ceased, is JUST as important. Your proximity plays a huge role! The following are some ideas to continue helping your widowed neighbor and friend well beyond the convoy of visitors.
Ideas for the Weeks & Months Following a Neighbor’s Passing
1. Help With the Trash
Take in and out the garbage cans. This simple chore can be a huge help and a tiny little weight off your neighbor’s shoulders.
2. Take the Mail In
Take in the mail, any packages and any newspapers. While an easy task, sometimes it’s the little things that count!
4. Household Maintenance
Help with any household maintenance like mowing the lawn, raking leaves, clearing rain gutters, and weeding, or help inside the house like washing dishes, sweeping, mopping and wiping down bathrooms. Offer to provide contact information for utility companies, or help sort out the bills. If this was something their spouse usually took care of, this can be HUGE help!
4. Send Food
Send food that can easily be warmed up or frozen for later. Cooking for one is often hard, so easy to freeze and warm meals are perfect! If their spouse was the cook, consider packaging in individual containers labeled with preparation instructions like these chicken fajita bowls from CleanFoodCrush.com
5. Invite Them Out
Invite them over or out for lunch or dinner, or even just for coffee or tea. Sometimes it just helps to get out.
6. Pick Up Groceries or Medications
Offer to pick up groceries or any other necessities like medications. While getting out is great, sometimes, helping with the mundane tasks like shopping can be a huge help.
7. Offer to Babysit
Offer to babysit or take the kids out for a while. If your neighbor has young kids, the continued stress of this type of situation can often be hard. Giving your neighbor time for themselves and taking the kids out for the day to be, well, kids, is a great offering.
8. Offer to Pet Sit
Offer to watch their pets or take their pets for walks. Our furry friends need love to, so lending a helping hand with pets is always a great gesture.
Gifts like mementos, books, flowers, etc. show your continued care and can be given any time.
10. Don’t Forget Special Holidays
Don’t forget special days like birthdays or holidays! Take them a special gift, take them out or invite them over. Sometimes, all they really need is some company.
If you have lost a loved one and a neighbor did something for you that was extra special, or you did something for a neighbor you thought was great, please share it with us in the comments below! We’d love to hear some neighborly love! Wishing you, AND your neighbors, nothing but the best!