I’m celebrating the unsung heroes of this difficult time and offering 8 ways to be an excellent support person
The “support person” is a role that typically goes unnoticed in the chaos of grief.
Unfortunately, I have been to many funerals and I’ve noticed there is always someone who helps the family the most in their time of loss. This is their support person.
I will state the obvious and say funerals are difficult. They are a public affair and all eyes are on the mourners.
A couple of years ago, my cousins lost their father. One of these cousins is also my best friend, she’s married and has two children.
She is a very strong person but losing a parent is gut-wrenching, she was devastated. She helped plan the funeral and was with him when he passed away. This was her time to grieve the loss of someone she loved dearly.
Naturally, her husband was at the funeral. He was so attentive to her and her family. He made conversation with the attendees, while keeping an eye on his wife and her immediate family.
I noticed him jumping in to handle anything that would be an inconvenience to the grieving family. I thought he was an excellent support person.
It is not an easy role but every grieving family has one. A support person is like the maid of honor or best man at a wedding. Naturally, it is a more solemn role. However, they take control of the situation and make the day run smoothly.
Unlike the maid of honor or best man’s job, it is not a role that appointed or discussed by the family. Obviously, they have a lot on their minds. Usually, the support person slips into the role naturally.
From what I’ve observed, the support person is usually a partner or very close friend to one of the immediate family members of the deceased.
The support person allows the entire family to grieve together without the interruption of arbitrary details that emerge before and after the funeral service.
For obvious reasons, the support person is usually someone very close to the family. They know the dynamics of the family and who is the most fragile in this difficult time.
The support person has many roles before a funeral service and at the subsequent social gathering. I have made a list of the main things a support person does to help the mourners during this difficult period.
1. If there is not a caterer, they help the people who made food carry it into the building. Additionally, they might help with the set-up of flowers or tribute boards.
2. They give directions to funeral-goers. Someone always needs directions: Directions to the bathroom, the quiet room, or the funeral home itself.
3. They will answer questions about the funeral service. If they don’t know the answer to the question being asked, they will speak to the funeral home staff.
4. They will interact with the family and buffer any awkward social interactions.
5. They keep an eye on the people who are grieving the loss the hardest.
6. They socialize with the attendees but avoid divulging personal information such as the cause of death.
7. If they notice someone is having a hard time during the social part of the funeral, they guide them to a private area and sit with them.
8. They may help with cleanup of food and tie up loose ends after the funeral service and social time is over.
The support person is the unsung hero of a funeral. They help out in any way they can, while offering support to their loved ones.
If someone close to you has lost someone they loved dearly, consider slipping into this role proactively.
Death is a hard time for everyone, even awkward for some people. If you can make an event like a funeral less difficult, your efforts will be appreciated.
I’ve been blessed and have not experienced the loss of a parent, sibling, or close friend. When that time comes, I hope I have a great support person like my cousin did.
Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics. Feel free to follow her on Twitter!