Alas, the daughter (I’ll call her E) of our very dear friends is on her way home today from Houston via Air Ambulance, the good doctors at MD Anderson, who placed her in an experimental program three weeks ago with the hope of giving E a longer life, have told the family there is nothing more they can do.
E is coming back to the house she grew up in to be surrounded by family and friends. As her body gives out, hospice caregivers will be there to provide last medical care they can.
I reached out to my good friend Chris Fountain, who, many of you know, lost his son to cancer two years ago. I asked him for advice:
- How do I offer help?
- What help might the family want?
- Do they even want company or help?
- Might they prefer to be left alone?
Of course, every family is different in how they handle death and if they prefer to be left alone or want company. Chris pointed me to a good website called Option B, funded by Sheryl Sandberg after her husband died suddenly. Within the pages of Option B is a tab for Grief and Loss.
Chris and one of his daughters said that they found it helpful when people made specific suggestions of ways to help, not just say “I’m here, how can I help.” Say, I’ll walk the dog Tuesdays and Thursdays, or say Lunch for the week will be at your back door by noon every day.
Since we are next-door neighbors and great friends, this is what we offered:
We know that you plan to come home today with E to hospice care. We are here and want you to know that if anyone in your family or any friends may need/want an overnight stay of any length and want to be next door, you have use of the entire upstairs (3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms). It is ready now. There’s a queen bed, a double bed, and one twin bed. Come in through the kitchen door and go up the back steps at any time of the day or night. The guests can have as much privacy as they want.
Our driveway is also available to use for extra cars if you need to make room for incoming. You can park as many cars of yours or others in our driveway and come and go as it suits. We’ll keep lights on outside and at the back door and in the kitchen so people coming when it’s dark can find their way.
We have arranged lunches for the week – salads, soups, sandwiches. Lighter fare. They will be at your front door step no later than 11:30am every day.
Thinking of you,
It’s a tough thing for anyone losing a child. E is a wife and mother too, of a toddler, which makes it even more devastating. We will do our best to eliminate some stress they are feeling by being good friends and neighbors.