I've received many e-mails telling me about other families who have recently lost a child. Many of the e-mails come from family members or close friends of the family. I've been asked many times what we found most helpful returning home from the hospital and planning a funeral. I'm sure every family feels differently, but this is what Patrick and I were grateful for.
We walked in to a clean house. The refrigerator and freezer were stocked with food, which enabled us to stay home instead of heading to the grocery store. The fridge was filled with fruit. When you struggle finding an appetite, healthy food seems to be what you want to eat.
A complete stranger at the time, now a friend, made a slide show of Preslee's life. She left it on the doorstep ready for the viewing. She made enough copies for our family members to have a copy.
Family took care of what we wore for the funeral, and even Preslee's burial dress. There's no way I could have went shopping to find a nice black dress, and Pat was in desperate need of a suit. Preslee's dress was the biggest blessing though, that was something I couldn't have done. My sis-in-law found a beautiful dress, I couldn't imagine shopping for a burial dress when we had never bought her a baptism, prom, or wedding dress. But be open, it's a personal thing for the family, if they have something different in mind, don't pressure them into anything :)
I was given matching white bracelets, one for Preslee with a key on it, and one for me with a lock on it.
I received necklaces with Preslee's name or picture on it. It's amazing how much the necklaces have meant to me, it's a small way to keep her with me. Don't forget the dad though, someone gave Pat a key chain that said "Forever Daddy's little girl, Preslee Jo." He was very appreciative to be thought of.
My mom and friend offered to help clean Preslee's room. I couldn't have done it without them. I knew if I didn't do it quickly I would avoid it all together.
Friends brought freezer meals. Not just the first week, but months later. I don't know why I struggled cooking, but I avoided it at all costs while going to school. I still remember a neighbor dropping off a Papa Murphey's pizza and I couldn't stop crying because I was so grateful. :)
And most of all, just be there to listen months later. I've appreciated the people who listen and don't tell me how to act or what to feel, even if what I'm saying sounds crazy. Other parents get to talk about their kids without others feeling awkward around them. There's plenty I still want to share. For me, talking is how I get the big load off my shoulders.
Like I said above, I'm sure every family is different. But one thing I've learned is don't ask, just do it. There's no way I would have asked for one of those things listed above.Even a simple text, e-mail, or letter stating you're thinking of them will be more than enough.