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How a Group Can Support a Grieving Friend
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How a Group Can Support a Grieving Friend

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Many of our gift boxes are sent by groups of friends, which we love to see. It got us thinking about the best ways for groups of friends to come together to support someone in a time of grief or struggle. The good news is by banding together you can have a bigger impact, because you’re collectively able to give more time and effort. Here are some ways to rally around a friend:

A mail campaign: When my husband died, my three siblings coordinated a mail effort to me. Nearly every day of the week was an envelope in the mail from one of them, and this went on for month. They always used really brightly colored (almost neon!) envelopes that were cheery and really jumped out. They were almost never long letters, but quotes, supportive lines, etc.

A weekly childcare break: If your friend has kids, come together as a group and offer him or her a weekly break—say, taking their kids every Saturday afternoon for two hours. By rotating, this can be something you end up doing just once every month or two. In my case, my girls were taken care by friends for two hours every single Sunday so that I could go to a yoga class. It was some of the only alone time and exercise I was able to get.

Send a Rainy Day Box: We typically see groups opt for the Deluxe Box, which provides six gifts to be opened over time, on your friend’s toughest grief days. With each one they open, they’ll remember your entire group is offering its support.

Store-run point people: Does one of your regularly go to Target? Trader Joe’s? The post office? Determine who wants to be responsible for which location, and get in the habit of texting your friend when you’re heading there. “I’m headed to Target this afternoon. What can I pick up for you?” I have two friends who regularly texted me in these cases and would drop off the groceries at my door.

Assign everyone a holiday: Have each person in the group select a holiday where they plan to reach out with a concrete offer of help, from purchasing bags of Halloween candy to helping put up a Christmas tree, to coming over to dye Easter eggs with the kids, to bringing a pack of sparklers on the Fourth of July. One friend each year sends supplies for my kids to make Valentine’s Day cards to give out at school.

Take yardwork off their plate: The yard can end up pretty far down the list of things that get taken care of when you’re struggling. Tell your friend this is covered for a year. You can either pool your money and hire a lawn service, or band together to do the mowing and raking yourself.

Do an unusual Meal Train: The idea of doing a Meal Train isn’t revolutionary, but it’s helpful, and fairly standard in the early weeks or even months after a death. Consider doing a different kind of Meal Train beyond that point. You could do a month of soups on Sunday in the winter, or a different big salad each week in the summer, Friday night delivery one month.