How to Help More Effectively
To the level possible, insure that widows/widowers receive safe food when supplied by others in the church. Unfortunately those in need sometimes receive food not properly stored or left out too long. Food poisoning is devastating to a grieving family. Eating Emma's Eggplant Surprise Casserole may be a treat for Emma's husband, but a grieving widow/widower with a house full of hungry children may find it more stressful than helpful. Stick to basic foods most people will enjoy.
Busy households sometimes resort to dinners from a nearby fast food establishment, but please bring homemade food to widows/widowers rather than take out.
Make sure that helping a widow/widower is really helping. The widower who returned home late in the evening after his wife's death did not find it helpful that friends had removed all sheets from every bed in the home but did not replace them, did not view that as helpful. He could not find the sheets, nor did he know where his wife kept their sheet supply.
Helping with household tasks may be of great value to taxed widows/widowers, but make sure the help is very respectful of emotional boundaries which are at their peak during the grieving process. Ask widows/widowers exactly what they would find most helpful and how they would like it done.
Widows/widowers must do things in their own time. What might seem like a priority in others eyes, may not be a priority for the widow/widowers. Helpful friends and family members may think it is a priority to help the widow/widower deal with the clothing and personal belongings of the one who has died, yet it may be years before a widow/widower is ready to do that.
Do not tell widows/widowers to give you a call if they need anything. They won't. Ask them specifically what they need done and do it.
Follow through on everything you offer to do. Widows/widowers comment on a frequent basis that promises are not kept by most people who offer help. They are counting on your help and when they do not get it, they are at a loss.