Insider's View
Print Friendly

Sep 4, 2012

When a Neighbor Dies

Paper Products when a neighbor dies.

Paper products as an expression of condolences.

We live in a diverse and usually quiet neighborhood.  Most people pretty much keep to themselves, going and coming out of their doors, driveways and garages with only the customary wave or nod of the head.    Being the “Nosey Neighbor” on my street, early on I made a point of getting to know everyone on the block.   Because I work at home, I’ve taken UPS packages, flower deliveries, been a surrogate bus driver when a child missed theirs, a place for shelter when it’s raining or too cold to wait at the bus stop and a safe place to wait for mom or dad when a key is lost.  It’s called being a Good Neighbor.

Over the years original neighbors have come and gone and it’s a bit more challenging to get to know the new ones.  Our children are older and my bus driver and shelter duties have ceased.  New cultural, social and religious differences have also played a role, I’m sure.

So what happens when a neighbor dies which recently happened on my block?  How do you pay your respect and offer condolences?  The usual providing of food, running errands, being an extra pair of hands or sitting with the family may not be appropriate in all situations.  Considering dietary and religious restrictions it’s not easy to know what to do past saying, “I’m sorry for your loss.”  And that can be good enough in many cases.

Here’s what I came up with a few years ago.  I love to cook and share the fruits of my kitchen.  Looking for ways that would show that I care, I was talking to a friend about the sudden death of her mother.  Food started to pour in and the house filled up with people coming to offer their condolences.  She soon ran out of plates, napkins and paper towels.  Then the dreaded and embarrassing question, “Ms. Linda, do you have any more toilet tissue?  You’re all out!”  Without missing a beat, I grabbed my purse and ran to the store to restock the supply of paper and plastic products; napkins, paper towels, toilet tissue, cups, plates, utensils and trash bags.

Later after the services, when we had time to visit about the shock of losing her mother, she shared that it was such a lifesaver to have me take care of the paper supplies.  There was so much food brought to the house that she ran out of space to put it.  Several dishes spoiled and quite frankly some of it was not what her family would eat.  Guests were reluctant to take it fearing that it might be needed for later.

So that’s what I do . . . keep extra paper towels and toilet tissue on hand, just in case, when a neighbor dies.   Sure, I still cook when requested and if I know the people and their preferences well.  But this gesture covers everyone and has been much appreciated for its quiet behind the scenes approach.

What do you do to help friends, relatives or neighbors in a time of need?

Tags: , , , ,

  • Theresa davis

    BEAUTIFUL!!!! and encouraging

    • admin

      Thanks Theresa. It’s good to know that we can do something . . . when we don’t really know what to do.

wife, mother, sister, friend. Business owner, writer, photographer. Yes, it's a lot but life is full of opportunites and we should take full advantage of them.
Scripture Memory Verse:
SMV: Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Prov 16:3