A Few Do’s and Don’ts when Dealing with Death

Managing Real Estate Broker

Death is something most all of us have had to deal with so far in our lives. If you haven’t you will. It’s a part of everything, but it’s never fun. Here are some tips to help you know what and what not to do when someone you know is dealing with death.

1) Do say something…ALMOST Anything.

You can say, “I’m sorry for your loss.” “just wanted to stop by to give my condolences.” “I know you will miss them very much.” You don’t need to talk a long time. In fact, Don’t!

You can send an email or a card if you can’t stop by.

2) DO NOT try to make it LOGICAL.

DO NOT say "Everything happens for a reason."  I can say from experience, this truly made me feel WORSE when I lost someone dear. These things are okay for the bereaved to say. They are not okay for you to say them. .

3) DO offer to help in anyway, if you can, but DO NOT expect the family to call you and tell you what they need.

Some things you COULD do would include:

Cook a meal. Wash dishes. Shovel snow/mow the lawn. Make a run to the store or pharmacy. Call AFTER the funeral and ask what needs to be done as well. Call once or twice if you truly want to help
(Please offer suggestions in the comments.) 

4) DO bring food.

Bring whatever you are really good at making. 
Bring a reasonable amount and be logical about how you bring your dish. For a large family a large dish may be appropriate.

In the case of a person who may live alone, DO NOT bring a giant casserole that can be eaten over several days. It may seem like too much for just one person to eat. Instead, bring individual servings in reheatable containers that can be frozen and chosen one meal at a time.

Even better, package it in disposable throw aways that do not need to be washed and returned to you.

5) DO share memories.

If you have a story about something important please tell it. You can share this any time...at the viewing, in a note, or in person several days, weeks, or anytime later. Some members of the family may have never heard that story before. They will certainly appreciate that their loved one touched your life.

These things may seem obvious, but I can say from experience that death is uncomfortable. It’s hard to be supportive and may be intimidating, but your presence is appreciated. Death is also uncomfortable for those who have lost. They appreciate your love and support by most anything you may do. 


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Donna Yates
BHGRE - Metro Brokers - Blue Ridge, GA
Blue Ridge Mountains

Heather:  Death is a part of life but a part most of us try not to think about too much.  You have offered some very thoughtful and kind tips. It's hard to know what to say sometimes.

Apr 17, 2012 11:10 PM #1
Michael Maynard
New Neighbors Realty - Milford, CT

death is definately a tough part of life, sorry if you have recently lost anyone close to you.

Apr 17, 2012 11:12 PM #2
Heather Barber
Fort Lauderdale, FL

I am thankful that I haven't recently but my dear friend has.  These were things that she suggested. She said people often shy away from talking about her son's death but sometimes she just wanted to talk about him and for people to listen.


One more thing....do recognize the person after their death passes.  The person that lost will have a hard time on that anniversary and reaching out to them to lend an ear is so important.

Apr 18, 2012 01:57 AM #3
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