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“All who wander are not lost.”


“Let Me Know If You Need Anything.”

Okawville, the small town I call home has had many deaths in the last few weeks. More than normal. One of the traditions our small town carries out through its churches is the Funeral Lunch. After the burial, the mourners are invited to dine together, usually in the church hall. The women’s group of that church will put on the lunch. A potluck, with the ladies bringing their best comfort foods and lovingly serving those attending. We’ve had lots of lunches lately.

I remember my Mom’s Funeral Lunch well. I describe it in We Lost Her, the book I recently published about our family’s grief journey after losing our Mom in 1970, in this way,

“The ladies of the St. Libory Rosary Sodality put out a great funeral lunch in the church basement. I remember Mom’s pride when she’d bring her cakes to the lunches for others. I wonder what she thought of the spread that day. The family and close friends stayed, and the ladies were so kind. This tradition was an important part of “moving on” – getting back to normal after a death. It was just nice, too, not to go straight home to more tears. It was much better to have lots of people around to try to drown out the memory of the last two hours of hell at the funeral Mass.”

The Funeral Lunch signifies the turning of the page. The hard part of the burial is over and it’s a time to be with family, watch the little ones play with their food, talk about something other than the sadness that’s engulfed you for the last few days. As our pastor said today before the prayer over the lunch, it’s time to give thanks for all we have, especially that we have time together.

It’s also usually the time that people leave that have come to the funeral. Those grieving are now alone with their grief. I think these are some of the hardest days of the journey.

It’s a good time to help if the grieving person is ready and able to let you.

I’ve said and heard so many times to someone grieving, “Let me know if you need anything.” These words are said to offer support. But they are passive – putting the responsibility of contact and “asking” on the mourner. I’d suggest instead to

be more active in our desire to help those mourning. In the weeks after the death, check-in. Here are some ideas on ways to help:

Bring dinner or treats in the weeks after the funeral – some friends groups or churches set up a schedule so there is a visitor and food every few days for the first few months

Offer to provide transportation – take the kids to schools, her dad to the doctor, pick up that pharmacy order or groceries

Help with the house or yard work – mow the grass or clean up the yard, come and help with laundry or cleaning

If you have the expertise they may need, offer that – financial experience or contacts, technology help if they aren’t savvy, if you are handy offer to make needed home repairs

Send a card or note or just pick up the phone and call them in the weeks after the funeral. Let them know you are thinking of them. My sister Annie sends a card a couple of months after the death instead of right away, hoping it will help brighten their day.

Most importantly, just be there for them, with them. Go watch a TV show together. There are no magic words to say, so your intentional presence may be all that’s needed to make their day a little more bearable.

And of course, dear readers, don’t do any of this without asking permission – “May I help you?” Not everyone will respond yes, they may not be ready for your kind offers of assistance. But, they will remember that you cared enough to actively try to help, not just place the burden on them.

If you’d like a presentation for a group you belong to on “Never Say These Six Things” please contact Lisa at the Heartlinks Grief Center office at to arrange a speaker.

Be Blessed,


Ellen Krohne, author of We Lost Her, available on

Heartlinks Grief Center volunteer and Family Hospice board member

“We Grow Stronger Together”


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