Receiving visitors during times of mourning:

  • Make sure not to sit on chairs low to the ground. Undoubtedly you will be hugging people, and if you are sitting low down it will involve reaching up repeatedly.
  • Consider wearing a dark colored shirt; if you are hugging many people, you may end up with some make-up on your shoulders, and it won’t show much on black, brown or navy blue.
  • If you become overwhelmed and need a minute, simply excuse yourself and take some quiet time.
  • If someone drops by and it’s not a good time, it’s okay to say so. Arrange another time for them to visit instead.

If you are a guest:

  • If you are a guest in the home of the grieving family members, never start loud conversations about unrelated matters.
  • If you are a guest, clean up wherever you can without asking or being asked: wash dishes, put away food, usher other guests in and out.
  • Put down your purse before hugging or otherwise consoling someone.
  • Offer extra rooms and parking for other guests who may be visiting.
  • Volunteer to grieving family members to come back in a day or two to clean bathrooms or change beds as needed. Send your child to shovel the driveway or rake leaves if applicable.
  • Offer to answer phone calls or keep track of gifts and cards that arrive.
  • Help with tactfully spreading the word of the death so as to avoid awkward encounters with people who do not know.
  • Offer to pick up mail, groceries, or household necessities whenever you are heading into town.

It is a nice thought, but…

Try to avoid just giving your phone number to the grieving family members while saying, “please call me if you need anything.” When grieving, it is often difficult to know if and when you need anything, and calling someone to ask for it could the last thing you want to do or just be the furthest thing from your mind, even if it has been offered earlier.


This article was written with information from Vermont resident Melanie DeLonge