Losing a spouse is difficult for more reasons than one; not only is your partner no longer around to provide you with support, comfort, and assistance with all those household chores you hate doing, but not having them there to help care for your kids can be a whole other ball game.
If a friend or family member has just said goodbye to a spouse – and they have children to care for, alone – here are some ways you can show them support (and lend them a hand) when they need it most.
1. Take ownership of a few tasks their spouse used to manage.
If you know their deceased partner used to take the kids to school, make dinner on a Thursday night, or take the bins out every Tuesday for collection, try and find ways you can step in – on occasion, or on a regular basis – and help out. If your kids attend the same school as their kids, why not pick them up for school on your way? If you drive past their street on the way home from work each day, then why not stop by on a Tuesday evening to walk their bins out to the street?
Taking on a few tasks that might only take a few extra minutes out of your day can make a widow feel cared for, thought of, and allows them to spend that time doing tasks they’d usually be doing if their spouse was still around.
2. Occasionally make a little extra food for dinner, and drop it round to their place.
Weeknight cooking always feels like a mission, especially when you’re a parent of little (or big) ones. There’s nothing more comforting than knowing you don’t have to prepare dinner for the family on top of everything else that comes with widowed parenthood. If you’re whipping up a bolognese or roast chicken for your family, consider making a double portion and dropping it off at your widowed friend or family member. Chances are, they’ll be super grateful they don’t have to think about dinner.
We’d even recommend letting them know in advance that you’ll be cooking dinner for them, so they can head into the week knowing that – say – their Thursday night dinner is taken care of.
3. Make yourself available to tackle decision-making with them.
When a spouse dies, the widowed spouse generally needs to make a whole range of decisions surrounding insurance, funerals, childcare, asset distribution (if they’re the executor) and more. Prior to their spouse’s death, they likely made these decisions together, but now that they’re no longer around, the widow will likely have to tackle all of the above on their own.
If you’re well-versed in important life admin and are happy to help your loved one out, let them know you’re ready and willing to go through anything and everything with them. Sometimes we can’t think clearly, and can struggle to make big life decisions, when we’re experiencing grief. Having someone there to metaphorically hold our hand and help us make decisions in our best interest is exactly what we need after the loss of a loved one.
4. Check in with them frequently.
A phone call or text message goes a long way. Loneliness is a common experience shared amongst widows – this goes for those living with children, and those who will be living alone after their spouse dies. Shooting a text message through to your loved one just to say hello and see how they’re doing is a great way to help combat that loneliness. Don’t underestimate the power of doing something so small, simple and quick – it can totally transform your loved one’s day.
5. Make every event a kid-friendly one.
If a widow has young children they can’t leave at home alone, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to still attend events without having to find a babysitter or childcare. Not only will this reduce their stress, but it also means they won’t have to fork out the cash to pay for a minder or constantly rely on the same family members to look after their kids.
Hosting a birthday party on a Saturday night? Keen to head out for post-work drinks on a Friday? Let them know their kids are welcome.
Losing a life partner is challenging, no matter whether you have children or not. Making sure you’re always there to support your family and friends during a time of need is so important – especially if they have extra work on their plate now that they’re looking after their kids on their own.
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Needing to arrange a funeral, the team at Willed can assist. Call us on 1300 945 533.