How (and Who) to Ask for Practical Help During Bereavement

Posted by: Erin Ward in Grief and Guidance | July 8, 2021
How do you ask for practical support with things like chores, transportation, and funeral arrangements during emotional times around the death of a loved one? Though emotional support is extremely important when a loss has occurred, sometimes getting practical assistance is most needed to reduce stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.

Today we are exploring ways to ask for practical assistance during times of grief — without overburdening your support system.

Financial Support

Funerals are incredibly expensive. Many families are not prepared for the cost of their loved one's final send-off, whether the death was sudden or expected. There's no shame in asking for help to cover these expenses.

This can be done in several ways, but the most accessible way nowadays is through an online crowdfunding campaign. Other families choose to note the request in the obituary of their loved one.

There are many benefits to asking for financial help in a public notice, rather than asking each guest individually.

1. Those Who Can't Afford to Help Won't Feel Pressured

Not everyone will be able to afford to pitch in — regardless of how much they may want to help. You should be conscious of not putting a financial burden on people during this time. It's a guilt trip that no one needs when they're already grieving.

2. Strangers May Contribute

There are some sweet souls who use their wealth to donate to initiatives just like this. You never know if your story will touch the heart of a generous contributor.

3. You Can Focus on More Pressing Matters

Streamlining the way you ask for financial support allows you to focus on the matter at hand—planning the funeral. Regardless of funds, your family needs to bury their dead in a timely manner.

Logistical Support

Planning a funeral is overwhelming, and fraught with uncertainty. Would my loved one have wanted this? What would they think of this casket? Where would they want their ashes scattered? Does any of this even matter? There are so many decisions to make. And with fresh grief, each little decision feels like the most important one you've ever made.

The amount of work to be done is extensive, which is why you should never try to do it all alone. Ask your immediate and extended family to come over, or your very close friends and explain that you need help. If everyone helps with just one task, that could be 20 items off of your own to do list. The funeral will run more smoothly if everyone lends a helping hand.

Choose Enthusiastic Helpers

Be aware that others are grieving the loss as well. Try to delegate tasks as evenly as possible across helpers that really want to help. Unenthusiastic helpers may agree to help when asked, but a negative attitude towards the task can ultimately lead to more stress.

Many people believe that familial obligations mean everyone has to help out. While in a perfect world this would be the case, the stress of a death breaks families apart as often as it brings them together.

You don't want unenthusiastic helpers. Those who are forced to help are likely to be unpleasant, passive-aggressive, or less-than-helpful. Choose people you can depend on, and who won't add more pain to the planning of funeral arrangements.

How to Ask

You will find that most people are overjoyed to pitch in. Helping allows your support system to show tangible care toward you during your time of need. It can help them assuage guilt and grief related to what's happened in an incredibly healthy and positive way.

When asking, it's important to do so genuinely. Don't anticipate a yes, and be understanding if someone declines. Once the person has agreed to help, thank them heartily and get to work. Don't go overboard, but remember to acknowledge helpers from time to time, and show your appreciation with a card or gift when all is said and done.

Don't Delegate Impossible Tasks

There are some tasks you will simply have to do in person. Choosing a funeral home, accessing the last will and testament, and handling financial affairs will require your utmost attention. Being overwhelmed does not mean you can send people in your stead and expect them to be successful.

Bring a helper for guidance and support during these jobs, but expect to make the big decisions on your own.

The Takeaway

For many of us, when a loved one dies, shock comes first. Immediate family members have a very short period of time to process the loss before jumping into the logistics of planning a funeral and tying up loved ones' affairs. Unfortunately, how to plan and execute a funeral isn’t something that we learn until we need to do it for ourselves. It’s more than okay to ask for support.

Pick up the phone, write an email, or send a text to take that first step to reach out for the support you need and deserve.

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