A few months after Jennifer’s dad died, her mother mentioned a very sad observation: nobody would mention his name in her mother’s presence. “I guess they don’t want to upset me” Jennifer’s mother said. “But I want people to talk about your dad. He was a wonderful man and I enjoy hearing people’s fond memories of him.” Right then and there, Jennifer promised herself to help widows keep memories alive of those who have passed.
Here’s an example of how she stays true to her promise.
Melinda’s* husband Bob died during the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no visitation or funeral service. Melinda and her two teenage sons were left to grieve with family and friends via Facebook, text messages and phone calls. Jennifer set up calendar reminders to check in with Melinda every 30 days. (Note: if you know the person well, you could check in every two weeks.) Jennifer says, “many people rush in to help the first few weeks after someone passes away, but then the phone calls and texts taper off.” It’s unfortunate, but true: we go back to our lives, yet the bereaved are left to face their grief every day.
Jennifer and Melinda are acquaintances, so she didn’t know Bob very well. But she did recall that Bob loved baseball. So, during one of her springtime check-ins (via private Facebook message) Jennifer mentioned baseball season and asked Melinda to share a favorite baseball memory. Melinda was so grateful and wrote, “You have no idea how much I appreciate you checking in on me and the boys.”
When someone dies, to avoid talking about the departed is hurtful. It is far more painful for people to not mention the deceased spouse than it is for their widow to talk about them. Those who have lost a loved one want the memories to live on, not fade away. Help widows keep memories alive by talking about and fondly remembering those who have passed.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
For more information and resources, please visit our Caring for the Grieving page.