How to Support a Grieving Neighbor

Many Milwaukeeans struggle to know what to say or do after someone close to them loses a loved one. When the person who is grieving is a neighbor, there is an added layer of complexity. You may not have a close relationship or know your neighbor well, yet they live near you.

Our staff at Krause Funeral Homes & Cremation Service deals with loss every day and has advice to share when it comes to supporting those who are grieving. While it might be tempting to take a step back to give privacy or avoid awkwardness, it’s important to show you care.

Consider these tips when expressing support to your neighbor.

Write a sympathy card with a personal message. Opening the mailbox and receiving a card with a hand-written note can bring a great measure of comfort to those who experience loss. Include a funny story, a memory you cherish, or a few sentences about what you’ll miss most about their loved one. Someone in grief may read these messages repeatedly, drawing reassurance from the memories and from knowing they are not alone.

Offer to help in specific ways. Instead of saying something vague like, “Let me know if you need anything . . .” get specific with questions such as:

  • I’m going to the grocery store this afternoon. What can I pick up for you?
  • I have two casseroles in the oven. Can I leave one on your porch?
  • What afternoon can I take the kids out so you can get some things done around the house?

Take care of recurring household responsibilities. “Real life” and its endless responsibilities do not pause during grief. Lessen the burden on your loved one by helping with certain chores like shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, tending plants, walking the dog, or doing laundry.

Leave a care package. Consider purchasing consumable products like toilet paper, napkins, tissues, and storage bags, then leave them on the porch with a heartfelt note. If you know of a favorite treat, a personal touch can mean a lot.

Remember your neighbor on “big days.” Grief doesn’t evaporate after a few weeks or months. When the funeral service is over, when family has gone home and the phone stops ringing, continue to be there for your neighbor. You might offer to visit the gravesite on the 3- or 6-month anniversary of the death or stop by with a treat on Valentine’s Day or their loved one’s birthday.

At Krause Funeral Homes, part of our mission is helping families in New Berlin, Brookfield, and Milwaukee before and during the funeral – and afterwards as well. We offer assistance in the form of resources, interactive grief support, and our grief therapy dog, Bennie. We invite you to connect with us any time for your own sake or on behalf of a friend or neighbor you care about.